I grew up in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn in the fifties and sixties. We played both basic versions of stickball, the “strikeout” format, with a box chalked on a wall for the strike zone. We usually played this version down by the East River docks, where the streets were lined with boxy wharehouses. Hits were scored based on which story of the wharehouse on the opposite side of the street the ball hit. First floor was a single, etc. Balls caught off the wall were out. Fast and exciting game, and you could have as few as one per side, because fielding was minimal. Even a hard hit shot simply rebounded off the wharehouse wall. The other format was the one more like baseball. With sewers for home and second and first and third somewhere in between. The ball was pitched underhand on a bounce. Someone with longer fingers (like me) could put spin on the ball to make it move in practically any direction when it bounced. We included the sidewalks as fair territory, but hitting a car on the fly was out. But as most people know, rules varied practically from block to block, and it was advisable to get them straight before playing on an “away” court. One time we were visiting another team, and they tried to tell us we forfiet the game because we lost the ball. With these and other games we would keep ourselves busy all day. When I go back to the neighborhood, I don’t see anyone playing street ball, and I wonder what they’re doing with their time.
Original author: Joe Kosar