We played the “traditional”…
We played the “traditional” stickball when I was a kid in Queens, NY, but we used a loaded whiffle-ball bat with a taped up barrel for a little extra weight. To us, it was a kids’ game. We grew out of it as we improved at baseball.
We couldn’t all play on the same little league team and hardball was too expensive (we were ghetto) and didn’t have 18 guys who could play hardball to get a game going. Softball…face it, softball is for girls and old men. We took up fast-pitch (wall) stickball in schoolyards.
Nowdays we play in a league all over the NYC metro area. There is no running the bases; the batter gets credit for a hit if the ball passes certain distances (marked out on the field) without being cleanly fielded or caught on the fly, as the case may be.
Most players use either a metal bat, a combination wood/metal bat or a wooden bat with sheet metal rolled onto the barrel- it’s too hard to make solid contact with the old, broomstick-style wooden bats. Rules limit the size of the barrel.
The kink is that we play with shaved and singed down tennis balls (We use old ones with not as much air in them). The effect is less resistance, so the ball is pitched faster and breaking pitches have some sick movement.
Because the ball is also smaller than a conventional tennis ball, it is much harder to get a hold of one. However, pitching this smaller, lighter ball probably does even more damage than a baseball does to your arm over the long run.
Typically, the games are low scoring with a ton of strikeouts. The top pitchers frequently strike out 15-20 batters in a 9-inning game. Basically, if the guy has good control, you’re going to be up against it. No-hitters happen, especially during doubleheaders, when games are only 7 innings. You don’t usually scratch out runs. Most scoring comes from home runs.
During the playoffs, when both teams have their aces going, you’ll get 1-0 games where teams get less than 5 hits per side. But that’s what makes the game all the more intense. Any run you can scratch out matters immensely.
There have been many leagues over the years. In the late 80s/early 90s there were about 200 teams of all skill levels. Because most of the better players joined forces and consolidated into super-teams, fewer people play now but the competition is much tougher.