SCENE | Jai-Alai in the 1950s

Photos by Loomis Dean for LIFE, 1950.

Jai-Alai (pronounced Hai-Li) often lays claim to being the world's fastest sport. The handball-ish game originated in the Basque Country of Northern Spain centuries and centuries ago, but for a brief moment in the 50s and 60s caught fire in the U.S. as a faddy hobby and a spectator sport for gamblers. By the late 1980s the sport had washed up here—and I'm not sure why, because these photos of high school students taking up the sport in 1950 make it look amazing. Recently I came across an old Jai-Alai Cesta (the wicker mitt) and have included it as part of the Vintage Collection at The Reed. They have such an interesting and sculptural shape, it'd be a cool object to hang on a wall or repurpose—or you know, if you find yourself in a Jai-Alai Fonton anytime soon, you'll be prepared.


Ashleen Philipps said...

that was great sports.

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Jenny said...

Oh, I remember that sport from Mad Men!

Anonymous said...

Hey ! This sport is still alive ! And Basque country is on the two sides of the french-spanish border.