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Once upon a time, long long ago, when tennis nets were woven of bulrushes and tennis was called “jeu de palm” because the hand, instead of a racket, was used to bat back and forth a ball made of a pig’s bladder . . . once upon a time there were . . . ball birds. Though they resembled medieval jesters with their clownish colors, they were very grumpy birds. No one really enjoyed having them around, but they did provide a much needed service. Ball birds typically perched on the back of the chair umpire’s roost. Often, the birds became bored perching through what seemed like endless games that went on and on. Occasionally they would go after balls that had gone awry. Because of their boredom, though, they began pecking on the heads of the chair umpires, then those of the players. Once the ball birds began venturing into the viewing audience and pecking them on their heads, it was decided to start using human beings as ball boys (or girls).