From the Oneida, Vol.4, No. 4, April, 1993:
When Elder Keller George (Wolf Clan) was a boy, he remembers playing longball, a Native American game enjoyed by many generations before him. The game bears a certain resemblance to today’s game of baseball, America’s ‘national pastime.’
Longball was played on any long, narrow field, even as much as 50 yards long. Teams of 10 or 11 players were chosen and captains determined who would bat first by going hand over hand up the bat. The winning captain, with his hand on the very top of the bat, had to swing it round his head three times to prove he really had a good hold on it. If it slipped from his grasp, the other team batted first.
A small leather ball, about the size of a tennis ball, was hit with a four or five foot wooden bat, approximately three inches in diameter. Each player got one chance at bat, with the exception of the last player, who got three swings. When the ball was hit, the player would attempt to run to the far end of the field without being hit with the ball by the other team. If his ball was caught in the air, the batter was ‘out.’ Three outs meant the teams switched positions.
Once reaching the end of the field, the player would have to wait for the next hit, and then make it all the way back to the starting line in order to score a point. It sounds pretty straightforward so far, but there’s a twist! Players were allowed to ‘pass’ on their turn at bat. Often, a whole team would ‘pass,’ leaving one ‘designated hitter,’ usually the best on the team. He would then have one chance for each of his teammates and three for himself, being the last to bat. The rest of the team would line up beside him and, if there was a good hit, the entire team could run. If the ball was hit to the right, only the players on the left might run. Or, the fastest players would run and others would just lope along, acting as decoys. On any given hit, it was possible to have four or five players running in each direction. The team would develop a strategy that it thought would outsmart the opposing team.
The game was ended after a pre-set amount of time no matter what the score. If everyone desired to keep playing, different teams were chosen and everything started again.