When I was in Boy Scouts, we played a game we called ragball. We took a rag and knotted it up into a ball; This was such a remarkable transformation that it inspired some clever fellow to name the resulting game. See, it was a rag, but now it’s a ball; Ragball! Get it?
Two teams stood against the wall at opposite ends of a room. One team started, and threw the ragball at the boys across the room. If the ball was caught, the boy who threw it was out. Whoever caught it continued the game, throwing it back. If the thrown ball hit a boy, he was out. Boys who were out left the game. If the ball neither hit nor was caught, someone picked it up and threw it back in turn. Whoever was hit with the ball, and so had to go out, gave the ball to a team member to throw.
Someone who was already out acted as judge. As the crowd thinned out, the judge advanced the throwing line to some mark. As the throwing and receiving teams got closer together, the throws got harder. That is, harder to catch, harder to dodge, and more painful to get hit with. If you hit someone in the groin, you were out.
Amazon.com sells different ragballs that are “…soft and lightweight with polyester covers and are stuffed with textile fabrics.” I think this is used in a kind of softball game, as shown at the bottom of the web page of the Kehoe-France School, which I found searching google for ‘ragball.’
This other game may be similar to a game we played once called mush-ball. Mush-ball was like softball, except the ball was enormous; the size of a bowling ball. Some casual research reveals a Summer Coed Mushball League that plays with a 16 inch ball. That sounds about right to me. The ball was very soft, and almost too big to miss. The idea was to just hit it as hard as you could, and then run. I don’t remember much more about it than that. The mush-ball belonged to some guy none of my friends knew well.
There could be some ambiguous terminology here. Maybe people call the games by different names in different places. Another search result for ‘mush-ball’ brought me to a group playing with a ball that looks softball-sized. This may be like the ‘ragball’ Amazon sells: “What is Mushball? We play a game similar to softball but without ball gloves. The ball is bigger and softer and can be caught by hand. It can’t be hit as far as a softball.”
But the game we played was more like dodgeball. There were no points. The game ended when only one or two guys were left. Sometimes we played ‘last man standing’ and other times we stopped when there were two guys left, and they picked teams for the next game.
Remarkably enough, we managed this without five-day-a-week sports practice, without parents on the sidelines, and without a government employee in charge. We tried to play well, and play fairly, and to not let our team down, but I don’t want to make this more than it was. It wasn’t a sorting mechanism, or a scholarship program, or a ‘conspicuous example of excellence.’ It wasn’t training for the cut-throat adult world of commerce, or preparation for a life of service to humanity. It was just a game we played to have a little fun after spending a couple of hours practicing first-aid.