The Guardian’s Steven Wells calls efforts to organize a rounders game in a public park outside of Philadelphia, “the sporting equivalent of pissing on an apple pie and calling America’s mother a whore.” Hey, beat that, Wing Bowl!
I put it to Helen Todt – organiser of today’s event – that playing rounders in 21st century America is a bit like hauling a chimpanzee around the evolution-disbelieving Bible Belt and shouting: “Look, Americans, this is what you are evolved from. A girl monkey that doesn’t even wear gloves.”
“No,” says Helen firmly, “it’s nothing like that at all. It’s just a bunch of people getting together and having fun.” And she says this in a tone of voice that clearly implies she’s thinking: “Oh shut up you stupid smart-arse. Why do journalists have to have a theory about everything?”
Perhaps in anticipation of millions of Americans throwing away their sissy catcher’s mitts and taking up an obviously superior version of the three-strikes-and-you’re-out bat-and-ball game where you have to run around four bases, on June 28 the NRA launched the first ever Rounders World Festival, featuring teams from China, Iran, England and Wales. And nowhere else. Suggesting that, at the moment, rounders is one of the few sports that actually has less international appeal than baseball.
If you include Zimbabwe (and at the moment, the ICC aren’t), there are no more than 10 test cricket playing nations. The general thrust of Wells’ piece (ie. even the most random rounders sightings stateside affords the author a free shot at baseball’s “fat, enormous-headed, steroid gobblers with porn-star moustaches and hideous neo-mullets”) is more than welcome, but there are 16 countries taking part in the World Baseball Classic. Still, I don’t doubt for a second you’d have to be a little brave, loony or both to organize a pick-up rounders game in Philly, much more so than someone attempting to cobble together a softball lineup in Finsbury Park.