I grew up in New York on…
I grew up in New York on the upper West Side, and we played stickball against the Firemen’s Monument at 100th Street and Riverside Drive. We drew a strike box on the side of the monument with chalk, a pitcher’s mound about 50 feet up the street, and a batter’s box on the street. We used a broom handle (usually wrapped with electrical tape on the handle) and pink rubber balls made by the Spaulding Company (which were universally known as Spaldeens). A single was a ball hit past the pitcher’s rubber on the fly, which hit before the doorway of a building about 75 feet up the street; a double had to be hit on the fly between the marker for a single and another building about 150 feet up the street; a triple had to be hit between the end of the marker for a double and the top of the hill; and a home run was a ball hit over the top of the hill on 100th Street.
When I went to buy Spaldeens at the candy store, I looked for ones that had a little extra rubber at the seam from the molding process, because I was one of the few guys who could throw a curve ball with a Spaldeen. There was this one guy I played against, who every time I threw curve balls to him and he swung and missed, who would scream at me, “You cheated! You threw a curve ball!” He could never hit a curve ball, and he was a patsy every time he came up to bat against me. I would set him up with pitches low and inside just over the corner of the plate, then strike him out any time I wanted to with a curve ball that started outside, and broke in at his hands. And you could guarantee that he would be yelling that I cheated, because I threw the curve ball he couldn’t hit.
The funny thing is that 45 years later I am now a senior scientist at a major corporation, and he is a big-shot Wall Street lawyer pulling in megabucks, and every time I see him (about twice a year), I can still piss him off by reminding him that he could never hit a curve ball. And you can guarantee he will still be complaining that I won because I cheated, throwing him curve balls.