SOURCE: Cosmic Baseball Research Alliance
The American film director, John Ford,
born Sean O'Feeney ,
took his professional name
from his playwright predecessor.
JFBL Department Leaders
Not much attention has been given to early 17th century English drama baseball leagues. In particular there has been precious little research done on the John Ford Baseball League whose commissioner was the Carolinian dramatist, John Ford. The league existed for one season.|
The John Ford Baseball League consisted of three teams. A total of 108 games were played between April 1 and August 19, 1633. Thanks to local and contemporaneous statisticians, there exists a significant amount of data covering the League's season. There is also anecdotal information, although no statistical data to support it, about a game played by a collection of all-stars from the John Ford Baseball League against the Hamlets. The Hamlets were the acknowledged super team of early 17th century baseball. According to one presumed observer the John Ford All Stars "soundly and roundly defeated their betters."
Very little is known about the English dramatist John Ford. Extant records indicate that he was baptized at Ilsington in Devonshire, April, 1586. It is likely that he attended Exeter College, Oxford, in March, 1601. He moved from Devon to London where he spent most of his life. It is nor known if he traveled. His first appearance in print occurred in 1606 when he wrote a long elegy, Fame's Memorial on the death of the Earl of Devonshire. Apparently, Ford's independent writing efforts began later in life. Between 1629 and 1639 he published at least seven plays. After 1639, Ford is not heard of again. It is presumed he returned to Devon before he died.
One Ford scholar, Lisa Hopkins, writes about the vicissitudes of fame that has buffeted the English playwright.
The Caroline playwright John Ford is currently something of a minority interest...[T]here is still relatively little critical writing on him, and he could hardly be said to enjoy a prominent public profile; to say that one works on him, even in academic circles, is usually to be asked what one thinks of Stagecoach or The Quiet Man. Ford has, perhaps, survived the passage of time better than Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger, Marston, but I would estimate his level of celebrity as quite considerably less than that of [John] Webster, and about equal with [Thomas] Middleton.Fans and scholars of Ford will argue whether he is a moralist or decadent libertine. Ronald Huebert, author of John Ford: Baroque English Dramatist (1977) suggested that a writer whose themes are "witchcraft, melancholy, masochism, misogyny and incest...must have a taste for the bizarre." In her introduction to 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Other Plays (1995), Marion Lomax depicts Ford as a keen observer of social hypocrisy, especially in the sphere of sexual relations. 'Tis Pity She's a Whore has as its central theme a brother's romantic love for his sister. Lomax writes,
We may not wish to sympathize with incest, but we are forced to evaluate the evils within this society in such a way that the incestuous relationship emerges as an inevitable response to an inward-looking world where most values are distorted and strictures are rigidly applied...[The] patriarchal society has not equipped its men to see women in any way other than in sexual terms-- or as extensions of the male ego.Ford has been cast as a modernist with great understanding of the hypocrisy of the established order. Referring to the incestuous brother and sister in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore Lisa Hopkins observes that,
Giovanni and Annabella, like Romeo and Juliet before them (there any many elements of similarity between the two plays), lack rôle models or moral guidance, and the play thus offers a sustained meditation on what was to become Ford's most enduring theme: the relationship between sexuality and the social self.
The John Ford Baseball League (JFBL) coalesced when three locations for his plays came together for the purpose of playing the game of baseball.
The island of Cyprus, chosen as the locale for The Lover's Melancholy fielded the Cyprus Melancholies. The melancholy in the title and the team name refers to the depression felt by Prince Palador. This melancholy is the result of the departure of his loved one, Eroclea. Eroclea's departure is the result of her seduction by Palador's father.
The Greek city-state of Sparta serves as home to the Spartan Broken Hearts. Ford's play The Broken Heart like the earlier Lover's Melancholy is also about frustrated love, rancid lust. Ford examines the passions of jealousy and ambition. Orgilus wants to marry his beloved Penthea. However, Penthea's brother, Ithocles, will not permit it. He orders his sister to marry the much older more nefarious and richer Bassanes. In whose interests is Ithocles acting? Is it his ambition for his family, a rivalry with his contemporary Origilus or is possibly sexual jealousy? Penthea eventually starves herself, goes mad and dies.
The Italian city of Parma was the third and last locality to enter a team in the JFBL. Parma is the setting of Ford's most well-known play, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, hence the team's name, the Parma Whores. The play is a revenge drama turning on the incestuous relationship between Giovanni and his sister Annabella. Women in this play do not fare well. Annabella dies and has her heart removed by her pining brother/lover. Another character, Hippolita is murdered before she can carry out her own murderous plot. Annabella's tutoress, Putana, has her eyes gouged out and is eventually burned to death. One woman is spared, Philotis, but only because she takes refuge behind the walls of a convent.