Our playing field was sandwiched…
Our playing field was sandwiched between a five-story Catholic school and a six-story tenement. At the base of the tenement building our concrete stoop was located, protruding about four inches from the sidewalk and about three inches back toward the building; it was no more than a foot in length.
Practice and precision were the key elements. Hitting the point of the stoop with that gum-colored spaldeen produced nasty line drives that were extremely difficult for the infielder to handle. However, not ever hitter found the point that easily; one had to master the stoop to constantly catch the point–striking the point with the ball was an art in itself.
The field was cobblestone blocks (the old city streets before the tar paving), and the grounders were tricky. Infielders developed good hands and good instincts staying with those hard grounders that could shoot upwards toward your face anytime, scooping those grounds off the cobblestone was another skill in itself.
The Catholic school was across the street from the stoop and hitter. When we would play with only one or two guys on a team (Not running bases), we’d use these rules: a line drive to the first floor of the school was a double; a drive to the second floor a triple; and, a shot to the third floor a home run. However, if the fielder caught the ball as it ricoceted off the school BEFORE it touched the ground, the hitter was out. But, when we had enough guys to play running bases (usually about five players on a team), we had to resort to the regular rules of baseball.
The most beautiful thing about our stoop, though, was that it was next to the corner candy store. A spaldeen, a few kids around, fifteen cents in your pocket, a Saturday–you couldn’t ask for anything better.