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]
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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