“Shore” as traditional pastoral game / Banatske šore

Text by Dragana Bogojević, Perlez, Srbija

Banatske šore/ Shore from Banat is a traditional shepherd game that used to be played in Vojvodina. As a matter of fact, it’s still played in Banat, more precisely in the village called Tomaševac. Is it because of tradition or because of the passion towards this game, similar to baseball, but Banatske šore has been resisting the time. „The world championship” of this game has been regularly organized in Tomaševac on saint’s day, so called Ivandan (June 24) for 19 years!

Šora or lopta na beganje (the original name for the ball they use) is the ancient shepherd game which used to be played on rough grazing while looking after the flock and nowadays, in Tomaševac, it is played while taking a break from building so called nabijače – a special sort of houses, characteristic for this place and made of mud.

The word šora is a part of slang used in Banat: the verb zašorati or šornuti means to hit the ball. Banatske šore is the game still played with handmade balls, which are hit with a wooden bat and this is why it is said that it is similar to baseball. The team consist of ten players. They play on the field which is 44 meters wide and its length is not limited. The first base is marked as BASE 1 (so called cura – a girl) and the second one as BASE 2. The second base is 35-40 meters far from the first base. Nine players from the team A are standing around the field (so called keča) and they should catch the ball which is hit by all the players from the team B, one by one. The tenth player from the team A throws the ball to the players from the team B. The point is scored when every player from the team which is hitting the ball succeeds in running the distance from BASE 1 to BASE 2 and back, after, at least, one out of three chances to hit the ball. If it happens that that player is hit while running, the team which is in the field at that moment, will start hitting the ball, and the team which was hitting, is going to the field. You achieve the point only if it is the direct one.

Among the people who live in Tomaševac there is an urban myth which says that Mihajlo Pupin,  the world famous physicist, used to play this game in his childhood, and then, after moving to the States, he introduced Americans to it, which makes Banatske šore the forerunner of modern baseball. Even today, there are people who are fond of this story, although there are others who dispute it. But one thing is certain: “Shore” reveals imminence between distant nations.

And while elderly local people sit in the shade of mulberry or walnut tree and discuss whether Uroš Predić, the great Serbian painter, and Mihajlo Pupin really used to play Banatske šore, the youngest pitchers (šorači) will score another point for keeping tradition and healthy spotsmanship alive. And they will do it with their bats and balls on the fields of the village Tomaševac.

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