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By Dan Beard

Figs. 272 & 273.
The Cat and the Bat.

THERE are many quaint laws in this and other countries that are never enforced, and there are many games in boys' books that are never played. Once on a time the old laws were active and were obeyed; and once on a time some boys somewhere played the old games, but today they are dead.

ohb274.gif (5676 bytes)
Fig. 274.

Trap-ball is one of these dead games, but Tip-Cat is a revival of the old game and is anything but dead. Not only does it show signs of renewed popularity, but it is spreading rapidly all over the world where there are boys to play. It is popular all along the Atlantic Coast, in Germany, Italy, and even in Hindostan. Fifty years ago Tip-Cat was practically confined to the rustics in England, and fifteen years ago was uncommon in the United States and unknown in many sections.

The Cat

is a piece of wood about half a foot long and two inches in diameter at the middle, from which it narrows down to a point at each end, forming two elongated cones joined at their bases (Fig 272). When the cat is placed upon the ground and struck upon either end with a stick it will fly up in the air.

English Cat

In this game there are from four to eight bases, according to the number of players. Usually the bases are simply holes in the ground, like "rolly poly" holes. These bases are arranged on the circumference of a circle at equal distances apart. The Outs take the field, and the Ins, each with a stick for a bat, station themselves at the bases or holes. One of the fielders tosses the cat to the nearest batsman. The latter endeavors to strike it, and if he hits the cat then all the boys on the bases must change places. If the cat has been knocked a long distance they continue to run from one base to another as long as they feel safe in doing so.

Each base gained scores a point, but if one of the Outs catches the cat the striker who struck it is out, and if one of the Outs stops the cat and throws it in front of a player after he has quitted one base and before he reaches the other: that player is crossed out.

When all are out the other side take the bases and have an inning, while those lately at the bat take to the field and toss the cat as before described. When a striker misses the cat he tosses it back to the fielder, and the latter tries another toss

Country Cat

Make a ring on the ground as large as a big circus ring, and stand the striker in the center. The fielder or fielders, as the case may be, stand inside the ring in front of the striker, and toss him the cat. If the boy at the bat misses, it counts nothing; if he hits and fails to knock the cat outside the circle, he is out. If a fielder catches the cat when struck by the stick of the batter, the batter is out.

When the striker succeeds in sending the cat outside of the ring, he carefully measures the distance with his eye, and calls out "Twenty," "Thirty," or "Seventy," as the case may be, and if his call is not disputed, his score is credited with that number. But if the fielders challenge the score, the stick used by the striker for a bat is used as a measuring rod, and the distance is measured from the point where the striker stands to the spot where the cat has fallen.

If it is found that the striker has claimed too much he scores nothing, and resigns his stick to the fielder whose turn comes next. But if it is discovered that there are twenty-one stick-lengths where the striker has only claimed twenty, or seventy-two where he has only claimed sixty-eight, that is, if it is found by measurement that he has not claimed too much, he is credited with the number called and the game goes on.

Where there are more than one fielder they decide among themselves the numbers they take. Number One has the first inning, and Number Two's inning begins when Number One is out, etc.

American Cat

The American cat is smaller than the Country or English cat, the double cone not being over four or five inches long. If the game is played on the sidewalk, as the boys play it in New York City, a small circle is drawn on the paving stones, where the striker stands; but if the game is played on the bare earth, a hole is made where the striker stands. It is the duty of the batsman to defend the hole or ring with the stick be uses for a bat, and it is the object of the giver or pitcher to toss the cat in the circle or hole.

If he is successful, the striker is out. If, on the other hand, it falls outside the circle, the striker places the cat inside the ring, strikes it on one end, which causes the little piece of wood to fly up in the air, and before it reaches the ground the striker endeavors to hit it again and send the cat as far as possible.

If he Misses

he throws the cat back to the fielder, who again attempts to toss it into the circle, but if he succeeds in sending it a good distance he does not call his score, as described in Country Cat, but the pitcher offers him five points or ten, as the case may be. The striker, however, is not compelled to accept the offer, and may keep the pitcher bidding for some time, and if his last bid is refused the pitcher proceeds to measure the distance from the circle to the cat in jumps. If he can make the distance in fewer jumps than he has bid, the striker, or the striker's side, loses the number of points named in the last bid of the pitcher, and the striker is out.

Sometimes the score is measured by feet, that is, the length of the pitcher's foot is the unit of measure, or one point in the score. If a fielder or the pitcher catches the cat when struck by the batter, the batter is out.







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Last modified: October 15, 2016.