Indian Ball Game
Tuesday June 28, 2005
By Dawna Curler
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Even in this day of skateboards and electronic games, toss a boy a ball and he's in heaven. Baseball is the American "national pastime." Europeans and Latin Americans are enamored with soccer. There seems to be a universal element tied to ball sports that transcends time and culture.
Twelve-year-old George Riddle found this to be true when he pioneered with his family to Southern Oregon's Cow Creek area in the1850s. In his memoirs written more than sixty years later, Riddle described a familiar sounding ballgame played by local Indian boys in the summer of 1852.
"…they used a wooden ball about one and one-half inch in diameter and played with a stick flattened and crooked at one end to drive the ball past and between goal posts at opposite ends of the field when the ball was in play. Oh boy! But there was action for you. Stripped to the breechclout and scattered over the field to intercept the ball and drive it through their opponent's goal. At times the interference would be terrific and the young buck's skins would glisten with perspiration." *
George also hunted, fished, and swam with his newfound friends. He had discovered, through games and play, ways to bridge their cultural differences.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Dawna Curler, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
Riddle, George. History of Early Days in Oregon, Reprinted from The Riddle Enterprise, Riddle, OR 1920, pp.54-55.