5 Odd Balls

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Sure, you know your footballs, baseballs, tennis balls and basketballs. But what about the lesser-known balls? Let's take a closer look at some, er, odd balls now.

1. Jai Alai Balls

AKA: Pelota (Spanish for ball, duh)
Weight: 125g–140g
Let's get the ball rolling: Considered the most lethal ball of any sport, the pelota is 3/4 the size of a baseball, harder than a golf ball, and has been clocked at speeds in excess of 180 m.p.h. The Guinness Book of World Records calls it "the world's fastest ball." The pelota is constructed of hand wound Brazilian rubber with two hand-sown goatskin covers. Pelotas cost more than $150 each and must be re-covered after 15 minutes of play. No machine has ever been developed to construct an official pelota.

2. Qigong Balls


AKA: Worry balls, lotus balls, chiming balls, miracle balls, therapy balls
Made of: metal or stone
Size: 1 3/4 inches (small), 1 15/16 inches (medium) 2 3/16 inches (large)
Rock'n'Roll: Some balls have a sounding plate inside that makes them "sing" or chime when rolled or clinked
Ancient Chinese Secret: Around since the Ming Dynasty, these healing balls have many uses. Some believe that our ten fingers connect with the cranial nerves and vital organs. Plucking the balls with your fingers stimulates key points on the hand and releases vital energy. Some believe the orbs can prevent and cure hypertension. Others use them simply for exercise.

3. Skee-Balls


Made from: either smooth polished hardwood or heavy plastic
History: The game, skee-ball, was invented in 1909 by J. Dickinson Este in Philadelphia. The first alleys were sold to outdoor amusement parks and were 36 feet long! It was as much as test of strength as of skill. Today's arcade standard is ten feet, with most home games at eight feet.

4. Pinballs

Why are they called "pin" balls?The early version of what we now call pinball was actually called bagatelle. Players rolled balls up an inclined table and tried to knock down little pins for points.
Made of: Early pinballs were made of glass, like big marbles. When the game became "electrified" the standard steel pinball, measuring 1 1/16" in diameter, was born.

Tilt! The tilt mechanism was invented in 1934 as a direct answer to the problem of players physically lifting and shaking the games. The tilt debuted in a game called Advance made by Harry Williams.

5. Bocee Balls

Made of: While cheap bocce balls can be made out of wood, stone or metal, the most popular (and tournament approved) are made of hard plastic, similar to bowling balls or billiard balls
The other ball: is much smaller and called the pallino, or "the jack"; it's used for scoring
Meaning: From the Italian word boccia, which means "to bowl"

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October 10, 2011 - 7:39am
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