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Game Oina
Game Family Baseball Baseball
Location Romania
Regions Europe
Eras Predecessor, Pre-1700
Invented No

A game played in Romania, reportedly traced back to a shepherd’s game,  played in southern Romania from the year 1310. The game is described as involving two 11-player teams that alternate batting as in a one-innings game of cricket. The pitch is a soft toss from a teammate.

One 1990 report says that there are nine (fielder's?)  bases set out over 120 yards, that the defensive team can score on tagging and plugging putouts, and that there were over 1500 teams throughout Romania, mostly in rural areas. That account describes a ball the size of a baseball and a bat resembling a cricket bat. A second report from 1973 describes the ball as small, and the bat only a little thicker than a billiard cue, and that if a runner deflects a thrown ball with the palms, he is not put out. Note: Protoball’s initial evidence on oina came from the two western news accounts provided in the Hall of Fame’s “Origins of Baseball” file (cited below).

2017 Input:  In early 2017 we viewed a handful of Youtube videos (only one of which was in English), and we office the following rough impressions of the game. Most were discovered by John Thorn, and they depict mature players. 

The most interesting feature, to a baseball fan, is that oina has found a way to preserve plugging (you may know it as burning, soaking, etc.) as a way to retire runners.  This appears to be handled by requiring fielders to throw at runners from a few specific spots, so that runners at risk can remain at some distance.  They resemble dodgeball players in their attempted evasions, but if they deflect a ball with the palms of their hands, they remain immune.

The detailed rules for scoring remain non-obvious.

In the available clips, we did not see outs made when fly balls were caught. There are foul lines for hit balls.

Baserunners appear to be restricted to the far end-line when a new batter bats. Two or more baserunners may occupy that station, according to rules that are hard to fathom at this point.

Pitches are very soft short lobs, none appearing to soar much above the batter's head. Servers must smartly step away to avoid the lustily swung bat.

Very long hits appear to be treated as (trotless) home runs. 



“Play Oina!: Romanians Say Their Game Inspired Creation of Baseball,” Oneonta Times, March 29, 1990.

“Oina – Perhaps it was Baseball’s Grandfather,” World Leisure and Recreations Association Bulletin, September-October 1973.


[This source states that oina became the national sport officially in 2014, but is endangered today and is "almost forgotten," with only 25 village clubs active.   It also claims that the sport has been documented in the 1300s. The sport was declared compulsory in Romanian schools in 1897.]

Several Youtube videos describe Oina (if you find others, let us know). Most of the following were scouted out by John Thorn, and submitted in an email to Protoball on 1/19/2017:


[English, <3 mins.  An oina preservation campaign is sustained by two photographers who have produced a photobook for sale.]


[Non-English, >6 mins.  An inspired schematic representation that manages to convey many of the rules of play.]


[Not narrated, < 1 minute.  A few dozen photos from a recent book on oina.]


[Non-English narration, > 5 mins.]  Varieties of mostly bucolic play.


You'll find more with a YouTube search for "oina."






Corrections and addition to this account are encouraged.  If readers know of Romanian speakers willing to help, some central questions include:

[] What are the major playing rules?

[] Does the game remain widely popular?

[] What is know of the origins and history of the sport?

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