Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/44

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materials, the most common being of leather, filled with hair, while others were stuffed with feathers. Ancient medical practitioners were wont to prescribe a course of ball-playing, where the modern doctor would order a diet of pills.

It is supposed that ball-tossing had a deep symbolical meaning when played in the spring of the year; and that the tossing of the ball was intended to first typify the upspringing of the life of nature after the gloom of winter. And, whether this was the case among the people of antiquity or not, it is a remarkable fact that the ecclesiastics of the early Church adopted this symbol and gave it a very special significance by meeting in the churches on Easter Day, and throwing up a ball from hand to hand, to typify The Resurrection.

In the 16th century the game of ball was very popular in the courts of the Princes of Europe, especially in Italy and France. It was considered one of the best forms of exercise known for cultivating grace in motion, agility and strength, as well as for promoting general health of body and cheerfulness of disposition.

The Chinese have played ball in various ways from times of remote antiquity. For centuries games of ball have been known, and played in Japan. Ethiopian and East Indian traditions refer to games with balls played many centuries ago. Britons, Celts, Scots, Scandinavians, Teutons and the early Latin races have played games of ball time out of mind.

But while it is true that ball playing in many forms has been engaged in by most nations from time immemor-