Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Baseball Fever: Shakespeare had it too.

Despite the sudden interest in World Cup Soccer right now, Major League Baseball  is in full swing (sorry) so here are a few Shakespearean tidbits:

In the 1950s, the Canadian comedy team of Wayne and Shuster were regulars on the Ed Sullivan Show.  In 1958, they created a wonderful script called The Shakespearean Baseball Game for the opening of the Stratford (Ontario) Shakespeare Festival.  Here is a sample from the opening:

Bosworth Field (A Baseball Stadium Near Stratford)
[Enter Two Umpires]
Umpire 2
Hail Granato!
Umpire 1
I give you greeting, Antonio.
Thou hast the starting lineups?
Umpire 2
Ay. The batting orders duly signed
by managers both.
Umpire 1
‘Tis well. What o’clock ist?
Umpire 2
‘Tis at the stroke of two.
[Trumpets sound]
Umpire 1
Hark! The players come. To our
appointed places shall we go, you at first
and I behind the plate. This game
depends on how you make your call.
Farewell! until you hear me cry “Play ball!”
[Enter The Players]
Manager
My excellent good friends, may fortune
smile upon our enterprise this day.

and here is the complete script.

But Shakespeare also anticipated the game of baseball in the following lines:

“And so I shall catch the fly” – Henry V

“You have scarce time to steal” Henry VIII

“Run, run, O run!” – King Lear

“You may go walk” – Taming of the Shrew

“A hit, a very palpable hit!” – Hamlet

“O hateful error” – Julius Caesar

“Fair is foul and foul is fair” – Macbeth

“My arm is sore” – Antony and Cleopatra

“For this relief much thanks” – Hamlet

“I have no joy in this contract.” Romeo and Juliet

And Paul Dickson in Baseball’s Greatest Quotations found some more:

“And have is have, however men do catch.” – King John

“And what a pitch … !” – Henry VI, Part I

“And when he caught it, he let it go again.” – Coriolanus

“And watched him how he singled …” – Henry VI, Part III

“Foul …?” – The Tempest

“He comes the third time home …” – Coriolanus

“Hence! home … get you home …” – Julius Caesar

“He’s safe.” – Measure for Measure

“I am safe.” – Antony and Cleopatra

“I’ll catch it ere it come to ground.” – Macbeth

“I shall catch the fly …” – Henry V

“I thank you for your good counsel. Come, my coach!” – Hamlet

“Look to the plate.” – Romeo and Juliet

“My heels are at your command; I will run.” – The Merchant of Venice

“O my offense is rank, it smells to heaven.” – Hamlet

“O, tis fair …” – Troilus and Cressida

“Sweet sacrifice.” – Henry VIII

“That one error fills him with faults.” – The Two Gentlemen of Verona

“There is three umpires in this matter …” – The Merry Wives of WIndsor

“They that … pitch will be defiled.” – Much Ado About Nothing

“Thy seat is up … high.” – Richard II

“What wretched errors …!” – Sonnets

“When time is ripe – which will be suddenly, I’ll steal …” Henry IV, Part I

“Your play needs no excuse.” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

And finally, this is what I think of the great game of baseball:

“O wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful, and yet again wonderful, and after that, out of all hooping!” As You Like It

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