Cecil was determined to teach the Africans how to play American baseball. When he returned from a furlo he brought with him several bats, balls and some gloves. In all his years of ministry he always had good rapport with the young people and he was sure he could get at least 2 teams organized. After all, two teams were needed in order to play the game. He called for young men to join to form the teams and there was no lack of volunteers.
After a period of explaining things, he set them to their positions and started a game. He pitched, was the coach and umpire – and the source of information on everything as the game progressed.
He first noticed that every pitched ball that the batter swung at and missed just rolled away; the catcher didn’t catch it. Oh, well. That just takes practice (and courage) to be so close behind someone swinging a heavy “club”!
Finally the batter connected. Fly ball! Into the outfield. Again, there was no attempt to catch it as it came but just to pick it up as it rolled on the ground. Oh, well. They will catch on as things progress.
But then he noticed something else. As the batter was running around the bases, the fielder picked up the ball and ran with it in his hand to deliver it to the person on one of the bases, hoping to get there before the batter/runner. The fielder didn’t throw it to the one guarding the base. He had to put it in his hand.
Well, Cecil had fun with these young men for several days but not much improved. He shortly lost interest in teaching baseball – and later his bats, balls and mitts found their way into the auction in Mwanza. After all, dancing and digging to the beat of the drums and playing football (soccer) was their “thing”
Go forward to some of my experience. I was involved in a lot on construction, which included roofing buildings with corrugated iron or aluminum sheets. And often, while trying to juggle the sheets, hammer and nails, my hammer would fall to the ground. The African workers, in response to my request, would pick it up, climb the ladder and put it my hand. Even though I tried to get them to throw it up to me, they climbed the ladder and put it in my hand.
It was then that I realized there was a cultural issue involved. It was considered threatening to throw something at/to someone else. Protocol called for anything to be passed hand-to-hand.
So much for baseball; so much for hammer retrieval! It took a long time for me to convince one of my workers to throw my hammer up to me – and how to throw it – head first. I am sure things have changed a bit by now.