NEW ORLEANS. — Not many people know this and perhaps not many people should know this, but baseball was invented in Transylvania by Romanian sheep herders. It was called oina, it was played with a stick and a ball, and it was introduced to this country by Romanian immigrants to New York. There is an Oina Federation in Romania dedicated to maintaining and propagating the sport.
I had forgotten this earth-shattering fact until I got a call from a man named Sorin Baleanu, a former wrestling champion from Romania who wanted to tell me about yet another sport invented by Romanians: foot tennis. Mr. Baleanu started a Foot Tennis Foundation here in the United States, and he plans to make foot tennis the sport of the Nineties. I remember playing foot tennis with these really bad guys who smoked cigarettes in a vacant lot behind the school. It was a great sport to be associated with because only the toughest guys played it.
Anyway, I only mention this because sports are going to be bigger than ever now after the war. Not many people realize this, but two of the forces that confronted each other during this war were Sport and Art. Sport won -- by the lopsided score of 40 to 100,000 -- and Art lost. I'd already had a hint of this shortly before the war when my friend Barry Gifford, who's a novelist, called to tell me that he turned down an invitation to the Stockholm Film Festival to come my way for the LSU-Ole Miss game.