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Jai Alai

The novel, High Lie, is a typical Miami Jones caper with lots of dodgy characters and shady sorts trying to work the system in that way only Floridians can. It’s set around the world of Jai Alai, a sport that originated in the Basque country of Spain. It’s like squash or racketball, except the court is massive and open on one side, and the players don’t use racquets, but rather curved scoops woven from dried reeds, which they use to fling the ball at the wall.

Miami Jai Alai fronton.jpg
Photo by Lander Eizagirre – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The basket-like scoops are called cestas, and the ball, which is made from rubber and goatskin, is called a pelota. The guys who play the game are called the pelotari.

One odd fact about pelotari: They are generally much stronger and more muscular on the right side of their bodies, because they fling the pelota with such effort and force, and because all players must play right handed. The court has only one side wall, and the right side is open to the audience.

Check out this video of Jai Alai in action (and enjoy the zooty 80’s fashions and music):

 


3 Responses to “Jai Alai”

  1. Linda Hanna says:

    There most certainly is a fronton in West Palm Beach. On 45th street. It is closed but the building is still there. I worked for the tote company that provided the wagering computers during the 80’s.

    • AJ Stewart says:

      Yeah Linda, you’re right. Perhaps I should say there isn’t one in WPB anymore. I suspect it would have been a very interesting place to see in the 80’s. Shame it’s now one of those white elephant properties that dot the coast.

  2. Brenda Roser-Eyre says:

    Love the Miami Jones series! Action, mystery, one liners and fun – mostly – for the gang. Great read. Have read them all. Please keep them coming!

    My father brought me to the Jai Alai fronton at the original MGM Hotel in Las Vegas when I was just a little girl (and a Vegas native). The action was astonishing and the sounds overwhelming! Sorry to see it go when the hotel reopened after the fire in 1980. Thank you for reminding me of those special times and that wonderful sport!