The game of ancient Longball is another summer sport of the Onondagas. Longball is a simple game of hitting and running using a leather ball and a long slender wooden bat. What complicates and excites such a simple game are the rules used for the game.
The first rule is the boundary. The game starts with a line stretching across the playing field. In the middle of the lie is a base where the hitter stands. From the base, 2 lines are drawn in a v shape that extends outward into the playing field. Then a second vertical line is drawn a good distance from the first.
Teams are then drawn, there are 9 players on a team. As long as the teams have equal players. A pitcher is chosen for each side as well as an impartial referee to keep score. The first team to score 21 wins.
Each team is allowed three hitters. The rest of the team is allowed to “pass” or swing the ball or bat without attempting to hit. Once you “pass” you cannot hit but you can run and score. Runners line up across the line waiting to try to score. To score for your team, you must run from first line through the field to cross the second line and back again to score 1 point. Each team mate that does this scores for your team.
The pitcher straddles the line and the base with the hitter doing the same. The pitcher drops, spins, or taps the ball out of his hands (different individuals have different styles of pitching). The batter swings.
The ball must stay inside the v shaped boundary or it is an out and you change sides. After the hitter hits or swings he cannot run. He must wait until the next batter comes to the plate to become a runner.
If the ball is hit and is caught by the pitcher in the air or one on one bounce, it is an out and you change sides. Therefore, most pitchers have cat-like reflexes.
If the ball is hit in the air and is caught, it is an out and you change sides. Players in the outfield are not permitted to wear gloves of any kind. Sometimes the ball (approximately the size of a tennis ball) has been known to slip through some fingers.
If the ball is hit in fair territory and not caught, this is when the real fun begins. The runners dash across the field trying to make it to the other marker. If an opposing player tags them with the ball, they are out. Or more likely, if the opposing player throws the ball and hits (or stings) a runner on any part of their body, it is an out and they change sides.
Many people love to come and watch these games and cheer the players as they run for their lives. Most players enjoy having the opportunity to “sting” an opposing member from the other team. People cheer when runs are scored but we all laugh and cheer just to get together and maybe see a good bruise.