Double Ball Game
Some stories credit the Moon as the giver of this game to the
women, by whom it is exclusively played throughout the United
States except among the tribes in Northern California, where
the men use the game. There are indications that the Double-ball
Game was known upon this continent in the remote past.
The peculiar ball employed for this game is composed of two
small stuffed pouches connected by a band, or two billets of
wood about five inches long, made like thick pegs with heads
and ornamented on all sides with carvings; a leather thong five
to eight inches long is attached at each end to the neck of each
of the two billets. Dr. Culin reports an ingenious specimen made
by the Maricopa Indians of Arizona; that double-ball is made
from narrow strips of leather braided to form a band, each end
of which is enlarged by braiding so as to make a ball, the finished
article being about eight inches in length.
Properties.—One double-ball; as many sticks as
players; red and yellow head-bands, equal in number, for the
two sides of players.
Directions.—The double-ball should be made in camp
in the following manner: A strip of leather or of strong, closely
woven brown cloth from fifteen to twenty inches long. For six
inches from both ends the strip should be about seven inches
wide; the portion of the strip between these wide ends should
be about three inches wide. The wide ends are to form the pouches,
and the narrower middle section the band to connect the two pouches.
The two edges of the strip should be lapped and strongly sewed
the entire length of the strip, except a small opening about
an inch long left on the side of each of the pouches. Through
this opening the pouches are filled with dry sand, then the edges
are securely sewed together so that no sand can escape. These
pouches are the "balls." The sides of the pouches should be decorated
with designs painted in bright colors and a little tuft or tassel
of red yarn fastened at the middle of the bottom of the pouch.
The sticks should be about thirty-two inches long, not too heavy
and somewhat pointed at one end that is slightly curved. Each
stick should be marked by an individual device so that it can
be claimed by its owner.
Two wickets, made by crotched poles about five and a half to
six feet high, having a bar fastened across the top, are placed
in line with each other, one at the East, the other at the West,
and as far apart as the limits of the camp grounds will permit.
A red streamer to be tied to the eastern wicket and a yellow
streamer to the western wicket.
The players are divided into two parties of equal numbers and
lots should be drawn to decide which side shall have the eastern
goal, and all of that side must wear red head-bands; the other
side must wear yellow head-bands to show that theirs is the western
An Umpire must be chosen, to whom belongs the duty of tossing
the ball when necessary; to keep the score, and to settle any
To make a point the ball must be tossed so as to hang on the
crossbar of the wicket. An agreement must be made as to how many
points shall constitute the game.
The players stand in two rows about fifteen to twenty feet apart,
one color on one side, the other color opposite. The Umpire takes
a place between the two lines and as near as possible to the
middle of the rows. When all are in readiness the double-ball
is tossed by the Umpire straight up into the air, and all those
whose places are near the middle of the rows watch the descent
of the "ball" and try to catch on their sticks the connecting
cord of the double-ball. If one succeeds, she tries to send it
down the line toward the goal of her side; those of the opposite
side try to prevent success to this movement and to send the "ball" in
the other direction. The "ball" should not be allowed to touch
the ground from the time it is tossed until it is lodged on the
wicket. The side that lets the "ball" fall to the ground loses
a count, and the side that keeps the "ball" up until it reaches
the goal scores two points, equal to four counts.