An incredibly entertaining game that my gym
class used to play in Junior High School
. A very odd set of rules, too.
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Four gym mats are put down as bases, not in a diamond
formation, but in a square one. The team on offense collects its players on the mat in corner 4, and the inning begins. The pitcher
, standing a good distance away, rolls a kickball straight ahead towards the wall. One player on the offense runs towards the mat on corner 1, meets the ball halfway, and kicks the ball into the field of play. The fielders get the ball back to the pitcher, who starts the whole process again.
The most unique part of the game is base running. In matball, a player can stay on a mat as long as he wants. There is no force play. There can also be more than one person on a mat at a time, and while on the mat, there is no way a player can be called out. While he is running between mats, he can be called out two ways. The first is if he is hit with the ball. The second is if the ball is "mounded". When the pitcher returns to the mound with the ball, anyone in between bases is out. So what would drive anyone to leave the base that they're on? Well, for one, if you're on base when you're turn to bat comes up, your team gets an out. The second reason? You can't score if you sit on base.
In order to score in matball, you must run around the mats twice. That's right. Twice. If you run 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4, you score a point.
There isn't much that the defense can do in matball. If they catch a fly ball, it's not an out. They can't throw to a base to get people out. They have the option of trying to hit a runner with the ball, but their main job is to spread out, field the ball as quickly as possible, and return it to the pitcher. Once the defense amasses ten outs, the inning is over.
Two ways to make outs have been described before, but there is one other way to get an out in matball. As soon as the pitcher has the ball on the mound, he can pitch it, so naturally, the faster he gets the ball, the faster the game moves. It is to the defense's advantage to speed up the pace of the game, for the purpose of getting the third type of out: If a pitch reaches the front wall, an out is recorded. If a pitcher is fast enough, he can get a number of pitches to the wall before the kicker is in position (remember, the kicker starts from the corner.)
That's about all there is to matball. I haven't played it in ten years or so, so I might be forgetting some stuff. Still, it was a fun way to waste a half an our running around.