The games with a bat and a ball, for example, Baseball and Cricket, are very popular around the world. There’s another such game of Russian descent called ‘Lapta’ which has 400 years of history but is not widely known in many parts of the world.
In the popular consciousness, Russia is associated with the charming Russian singles and lots and lots of snow. When you think about Russian sport, the things which come to mind are winter sports like hockey or figure skating. The Baseball has never been associated with Russia, but there is a local counterpart. Pronounced as lahp-TA, this sport played with a bat and a ball doesn’t seem to have a lot of popularity. There are a number of similarities with both Baseball and Cricket, however, it is said that this particular sport was invented many years before Baseball. There was a time when it was extremely popular not only in Russia but Ukraine too.
Lapta – Similar to Baseball
It is even suggested that Baseball is a derivation from Lapta because it is indeed the oldest game which was played with a bat and a ball. Russians have always claimed that the excavations prove Lapta, in fact, gave birth to Baseball. But this theory never got any acclamation, mainly because nobody really cares.
On the other hand, it won’t be a wise thing to say that Lapta is an ancestor of Baseball. A. G. Spalding, who was a sports goods mogul, lead a commission in 1908 and reported that it was invented in 1839. It was Abner Doubleday who discovered this game from a children’s game called One Old Cat.
Lapta was very popular during the 1950s and was even a part of the Olympics. Peter the Great considered this game to be a perfect way to maintain his guards in best health and fitness. However, it was more of a leisure activity for all the locals.
Two teams consisting of six players each play this game on a field about 140 x 175 in size. The bat looks like the bat used in Baseball whereas the ball resembles a tennis ball. A traditional Lapta bat comes in spade-like shape. Each team should have a minimum of 3 players on the field as they alternate between hitting and pitching. Unlike Baseball, the pitcher stands right next to the batter and throws the ball.
The field is divided into two parts: the kon and the gorod. The first (serving) team is supposed to stand in the gorod and the opponents occupy in the kon area. A player from the first team uses all his force to strike the ball with a bat so that it goes to the farthest corner of the field. During this time, he runs from his place to kon and then comes to the gorod.
As the player runs, the team members of the second team attempt to intervene by catching and tossing the ball towards him. If such a thing happens, a player from the first team is supposed to go to gorod. The runner should be back in his territory before the returning of the ball. If he doesn’t succeed, he will need to repeat his actions. The game is won by a team if the whole team has successfully returned to gorod after hitting the ball.
In today’s world, Lapta seemed to have lost the popularity it once had. Seeing this game being played in real life is actually a challenge because it’s almost gone. But there’s always a way to try it out even it’s almost gone. Dating a woman in Ukraine or Russia who likes folk traditions might help you to make up a team of her friends or relatives and play the game with acquainted people. And of course, if you want to look for such a partner, there is a number of Russian date sites.