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Original Issue


It may be wood, rubber or leather; it may bounce, fly or roll, but each is a key element in its sport

As part of their games, men hurl, kick, drive or push a wide variety of objects through the air and along the ground. Most have changed considerably through the years as new materials have been developed and new rules devised. None, probably, has undergone a more startling evolution than the football, which began as a human skull and ended as today's inflated spheroid. (Some English workmen, the story goes, were digging up a battlefield after the Danes were driven from Britain in 1025, and uncovered a skull, presumably Danish, which they began kicking around in anger—and so invented a new game.)

As it changed, each object has profoundly influenced the sport in which it is used. By moving faster or slower or more or less accurately, it altered the game's strategy and the delicate balance between offense and defense, which is the essence of many team and man-to-man competitions. Today, for example, it would be simple to design a football which would be easier to handle or easier to kick or to pass. The virtue of the present ball is that it embodies a neat balance of all three functions.

On this and the following pages are John Langley Howard's brush portraits of many balls used in sports, with descriptions of their composition and dimensions. Since the game is the essence of the ball in all its varied forms, let the reader make a new ball game for himself by studying each painting and description and then identifying it on his own before turning to page 107 for help. A reasonably hep sportsman should be able to get a perfect score.

1 Solid white rubber, 7¾ to eight inches around and weighing five to 5¼ ounces; in play, almost completely unaffected by atmospheric conditions

2 Not less than nine or more than 9¼ inches around; yarn wound around cork, rubber or similar material; covered with strips of horsehide

3 A rubber bladder in a leather case, inflated to 12 pounds of pressure; 29½ to 30 inches in circumference; the game is only 67 years old

4 No heavier than 1.62 ounces, no less than 1.62 inches in diameter; the balata covering has recessed markings to aid aerodynamic stability

5 A quarter of an ounce either side of a pound; almost exactly actual size here; Darryl Zanuck and Averell Harriman are both expert players

6 Black rubber, just a shade short of two inches in diameter; from 100-inch drop, must rebound 62 to 65 inches; played indoors and out

7 For some reason, most youngsters call this a "Spaldeen"; it's really a standard tennis ball without felt on the outside; hollow red rubber

8 Kapok wrapped with yarn and covered with latex and cowhide; about 12 inches around game often called "kitten ball" because girls play it

9 Between 37 and 41 grains in weight; between 4½ and 4¾ inches in circumference; it's not a game to be played outdoors in a high wind

10 Both plastic and leather-covered (like this) balls used 5½ to 5¾ ounces, nine inches around; may be the world's oldest stick-and-ball game

11 Pebble-grained leather prolate spheroid, seamed and laced, covering an inflated bladder; game named for well-known school in England

12 Fully inflated bladder covered with three-ply plastic fabric; 27 to 28 inches around, 14 to 16 ounces; slippery when wet, which is almost always

13 Originally the inside of a basketball, now a 12-piece, laceless leather case over rubber bladder; 26 to 27 inches around, nine to 10 ounces

14 Solid English willow or bamboo root; 3¼ inches in diameter, 4½ to 4¾ ounces; four-man teams play the game outdoors, three-man teams indoors

15 Slow bouncing, hollow black rubber; just about size of golf ball; game named for distinctive sound ball makes when it hits against wall

16 Inflated rubber covered with felt; 2½ to 2‚Öù inches in diameter; must bounce from 53 to 58 inches after 100-inch drop to concrete base

17 Leather casing over a rubber bladder; 27 to 28 inches around; game is played in nearly every country in the world under the same rules

18 Pebble-grained leather prolate spheroid, seamed and laced, and covering an inflated bladder; originally same shape as No. 11 (page 88)

19 Solid sphere of any metal not softer than brass, or the shell of such metal filled with lead or other material; both 12-, 16-pounders used

20 Core of cork built up with string and cased with red leather stitched on with six seams; 8 13/16 to nine inches around; players bat it

21 Strips of cloth wound tightly and covered with milton cloth; 2¼ inches in diameter; game originated in France in early 13th century

22 Highly polished lignum vitae from 4[13/16] to 5‚⅛ inches in diameter; made unbalanced so it can be curved easily; game is played on grass