A Handful of Baseball

Three baseball-loving artists put their palettes together and whipped up a brand-new baseball game. It's fun and as easy to play as choosing sides
April 14, 1958

Baseball fans are supposed to be truck drivers or Tallulah Bankhead, but artists, too, follow the grand old game. It is not surprising, then, that three artists—Jerome Kuhl, Jerome Snyder and Brendan Mulvey—conceived, produced and nurtured the diverting pastime fancifully portrayed above and graphically represented on the opposite page.

It is baseball, played by two men (or two ladies; or any convenient mixture of the two sexes, such as one lady and one man) and 10 fingers. It parallels real baseball, but not too closely, since it is impossible to reproduce every delicate nuance of that delightfully complicated sport. The artists are content with a stylized version: similar enough to baseball to rouse the emotional excitement attendant on the game, yet sufficiently different to keep it fast and simple, a few minutes of rousing fun.

The game is based more on mathematical than baseball probability, though a baseball structure is followed. Teams (individuals, that is) take turns at bat. Pitcher and batter glare at one another, then simultaneously toss fingers: from one to five each. Totals, from two to 10, mean things (see opposite page). Even-number totals (2, 4, 6, 8, 10) help the batter. Odd-number totals (3, 5, 7, 9) help the pitcher. High totals are big gambles: 6, 8 and 10 are double, triple and home run, but 7 and 9, neatly sandwiched among the big hits, are double play and triple play. Low totals, on the other hand, are conservative, a change-of-pace device to throw your opponent off stride. Ball (2) and strike (3) are delaying tactics, used to set up your opponent (you hope) for the next move. Because scoring tends to be high, so far as baseball standards are concerned, games are limited to three innings.

Play a few innings. You'll be surprised at the excitement generated in the brief moment before the pitch as you debate whether to throw four fingers or five.

Ground rules are on the opposite page.

Ground Rules: Each player must always throw at least one finger. Runners on base advance bases equal to the hit (one on a single, two on a double, etc.)-Runners cannot advance on double play; batter is out, plus runner on nearest base (count first as nearest, then second, then third). Double play with bases empty: one out. Triple play with bases empty: two out. Triple play with one man on: three out. Game: three innings with three outs an inning.

TEN ILLUSTRATIONS

BATTER PITCHER

2 Ball
4 Single
6 Double
8 Triple
10 Home Run

BATTER PITCHER

3 Strike
5 Out
7 Double Play
9 Triple Play

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)