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La Machorra - A stick game

 
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:06 pm    Post subject: La Machorra - A stick game Reply with quote

Recently my mother told me that her father made her and her siblings games they could play. One of them was called "Machorra."

There are four players, two on each team. Other kids often watched and later would get a chance to play when the teams changed partners. (I'll call the team that was up to bat the "it" team and the other the "out" team.)

Two longer sticks and one short peg were needed to play. She said my grandfather sawed off a short length of a broom handle to make a peg about 4 inches long, and two longer sections to make two sticks about 3 feet long each. There were also two holes in the ground about the size of a cup, about 30-40 feet apart. At rest, the "it" team members had to keep their long sticks in the two holes, one player at each hole.

The goal of the game was to score points by running back and forth between the bases.

When it was the "it" team's turn to hit the shorter peg with the longer stick with the long stick, one of the "out" team's players would pitch the shorter peg to one of the "it" team's players. The pitcher would stand at one of the holes and pitch to the batter, who stood at the opposite hole. The pitcher would keep an eye on whether the "it" team member nearby kept their longer stick in hole. If the "it" team member near the pitcher took their stick out of the hole before the pitch, the pitcher would put the peg in the hole before the "it" player got their stick back into the hole, the "it" team's turn would be over.

Meanwhile, the "out" team member who wasn't pitching stood behind the "it" team batter like a catcher. The catcher's job was to catch or pick up the peg and put it into the hole near the batter before the batter put his or her longer stick into the hole. If the catcher was faster, the "it" team's turn ended.

If the batter hit the peg, the batter would call out a number, which would be the number times they thought they (the two "it" team members) could run back and forth before the "out" team members returned with the peg. Each runner had to insert their stick into the hole before running back to the other side, or their turn would end.

While the "it" team members were exchanging places, the "out" team members had to catch or retrieve the shorter peg and then race to put the peg into one of the holes before the the "it" team members finished running back and forth the correct number of times. The "out" team could put the peg in the either hole.

But the "it" team had to swap places the correct number of times in order to keep their turn and to gain the number of points they had called out. If they hit the short peg far enough, a team could score five or more times on one hit. But if the "out" team succeeded in getting the peg in the hole first, the "it" team was "out", their turn ended, and they didn't get any points.

The players decided at the outset how many points are needed to win the game. The first team to reach that total number of points won. My mom remembers often going to 18 points and the usual score being two points.

She said she was amazed that no one ever got hurt and that hitting the short peg was easier than we might imagine.

There is an explanation of a similar Asturian game here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/48280451/Libro-juegos-tradicionales-asturianos

I wonder how this game got its name? Oddly, "machorra" is an adjective meaning "sterile or barren." In a more pejorative sense it means "butch or lesbian." I can imagine that the stick and hole maneuvers might give rise, in a mean-spirited and discriminatory mind, to colorful imagery. But would adults share this with little kids, too?
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