When Chickens Play Baseball, Everybody Wins

A chicken plays a game of baseball for food, 1953.
Al Fenn—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Caption from LIFE. "Casey, an Indian River hen, has been trained to play baseball by psychologist. She pecks at rubber loop which activates bat which hits baseball."
Al Fenn

Baseball, as it’s played and understood by millions of men, women and children in every corner of the globe, has been around for about two centuries. The first game was reportedly played in Hoboken, NJ, in June 1846; that’s a lot of history. Right now, somewhere in the world, someone is catching a pop fly, or missing a grounder, or sliding into third, or hitting another round of 20 balls in a lonely batting cage. Baseball is America’s national pastime, of course, and it even rivals soccer in popularity in more than a few other countries around the world.

It’s a marvelously nuanced game — played without a clock — and at its best it has a kind of geometric perfection and a dramatic tension that no other sport can match.

And then there’s baseball as played by chickens back in 1953. Indian River hens, to be exact. The geometric perfection might be missing, as well as the nuance. But dramatic tension? Yeah. It’s got that in spades. Read the captions to the photos in this gallery — and marvel at the earnest lunacy that is fowl ball. _______________________________________________________________________________________________

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