By Phil Hecken
A little more than 50 years ago, Sports Illustrated ran a feature challenging its readers to identify 22 different balls used in the sports of the time. Although our knowledge and perception of sports have changed considerably, the balls have remained the same. I am pretty sure some of these sports are either no longer played or if they are, they’re only played on the manicured lawns of
lily-white fancy resort hotels or in places like Cambridge, England, or Newport, Rhode Island — ya know, places where they christen their sloops with names like The Flying Wasp — but they still took balls to play. And, of course, for the regular folks, SI included the classic pink balls used by kids on the streets of the big cities of the day.
Think you know your balls? Lets see. Take the quiz (the scans of the original SI pages are shown below) and give yourself one point for each ball you nail. If the scan doesn’t appear large enough, you should be able to enlarge it, as I took the liberty of making the balls as big as possible. You should have no trouble examining the largest and smallest balls and their descriptions. I’ll post the answers later on in the day, but in the meantime, be sure to post your answers in the comments. And please don’t cheat by going to the SI archives, or I’ll have to break your balls. Ready? Ready…let’s go:
Balls 1-3 are a pretty easy beginning. Most of you should have no trouble identifying them. Quick start should yield you three points.
Balls 4-7 start to get a little tougher. One of the four is easy, the rest…maybe not so much. Good score here would be three out of four.
Balls 8-11 should yield at least three out of four correct. Be careful, however, not all balls look alike. Four out of four is possible here.
Balls 12-14 are knowable, but tricky. It’s likely none of you has ever played with the last ball, much less seen one. Still, based on the clue, you may be able to ascertain its purpose. Three out of three would demonstrate a worldly ball knowledge.
Balls 15-18 may be the easiest set of balls to identify. Four out of four is likely here.
Balls 19-22 will be the toughest yet for identification purposes. Two out of four would be a good score here.
0-14: You don’t know dick about balls — you’ll get nothing and like it!
15-16: You only know a little about your balls. You’re not…you’re not good — you stink.
17-18: You know the difference between a rubber and a leather ball. Another Rob Roy, Bishop?
19-20: You really know your balls, and you almost beat the ball quiz. How about a Fresca?
21-22: You must have cheated — but that takes some balls! You ain’t getting no coke. Know what I’m talking about?
Sorry for the non-uni post, but it’s the end of the year, and balls are as essential to sports as uniforms. And on that note, I wanna give a shout-out to Ricko for the SI scans. If anyone knows
old balls his equipment, it’s the Rick. Thanks, Ricko!