Bard at the Bat

OK, last week I gave you Whitman and Melville. While I’m still on a literary jag, let me offer this bouquet of Shakespeare quotations on baseball, gathered by Henry Chadwick in 1868. The play’s the thing, after all. Shakespeare’s other recognized contributions to baseball’s dramatic literature include The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (referencing the All-Star Game), and, of course, The Speed Merchant of Venice. As Father Chadwick wrote,Old Billy, ye play writer, must have been ball player once. Read what he says:”

“You base (foot) ballplayers.”—Lear.

“Why, these balls bound.”—Merry Wives.

“Now, let’s have a catch.”—Twelfth Night.

“I will run no base.”—Merry Wives.

“And so I shall catch the fly.”—Henry V.

“Hector shall have a great catch.”—Troilus and Cressida.

“More like to run the base.”—Cymbeline.

“As swift in motion as a ball.”—Romeo and Juliet.

“Ne’er leave striking in the field.”—Henry IV.

“After he scores.”—All’s Well.

“Ajax goes up and down the field.”—Troilus and Cressida.

“Have you scored me?”—Othello.

“He proved best man i’ the field.”—Coriolanus.

“The word is pitch and pay.”—Henry V.

“However men do catch.”—King John.

“What foul play had we?”—Tempest.

“Unprovided of a pair of bases.”—Titus Andronicus.

“No other books but the score.”—Henry VI.

“These nine men in buckram.”—Henry VI.

“His confounded base.”—Henry VI.

“I will fear to catch.”—Timon.

“What works, my countrymen, in hand? Where go you with bats and clubs?” —Coriolanus.

“Let us see you in the field.”—Troilus and Cressida.

“The very way to catch them.”—Coriolanus.

Nerd fun, for sure.


From Hamlet, Act I, Scene I, there’s also “For this relief, much thanks.” (A tip of the cap to Wayne & Shuster, as the line appears in their Shakespearean baseball sketch.)

And of course, an unfavourable call by an umpire may lead a fan to lament that in the umpire’s eyes, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair!” (Macbeth, Act I, Scene I)

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