I can remember how much fun we had as children making up games once school was out. When adult intervention came along, in the form of Little League, I tried out and it was a complete disaster. It nearly destroyed my love of baseball. I was cut the first day. These days, nobody ever gets cut. I’m not sure which is worse.
Before Little League, we played a wonderfully democratic form of baseball we called work-up. There were only four players at bat, and everyone else played in the field. Whenever one of the batters made an out, he or she went out to play right field, and everyone else worked up (hence the name) one position: The right fielder moved to center, center fielder to left, left fielder to third base, third to shortstop, shortstop to second base, second to first base, first to pitcher, pitcher to catcher, and the catcher became a batter.
Work-up embodied economy, good sense, and fairness. You didn’t need 18 players, and everyone got to play every position. Everyone batted at least once and, once you joined the batters, you never had long to wait before it was your turn to hit. There were no innings, and nobody kept score, because there were no teams. Everyone was just playing together. I wonder if anyone still plays work-up.