Balls and the sports built around them are key to understanding different cultures, argues Denver-based sportswriter Josh Chetwynd. And a trip to a London park to toss around a baseball with his son helped get the ball rolling on his new book, The Secret History of Balls. We started walking around the park and found an Irish hurling ball its called a sliotar and then a tennis ball and a cricket ball, each representing different sports and different aspects of the countries and cultures they came from, says Chetwynd. It got me thinking about balls as a basis for looking at culture.
Although hes a baseball man himself and has played minor-league pro ball in both the United States and Sweden, as well as doing a stint with Englands national team, Chetwynd says new favorites from his research include the rattan raga used in the Southeast Asian sport of takraw, the handmade pelotas used in jai-alai, and the Maori ki, woven from indigenous plants for New Zealands national game of ki-o-rahi. It takes balls to talk about this topic in public, he admits: Ive heard it all: How are those balls hanging? Are you done playing with your balls yet? Its been a lot of fun.
Chetwynd will share stories and sign copies of his book tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl Street in Boulder (go to http://boulderbookstore.indiebound.com or 303-447-2074) and tomorrow night, also at 7:30 p.m., at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue (www.tatteredcover.com or 303-322-1965).
Mon., May 9, 7:30 p.m., 2011