I didn’t grow up in NYC. Not even close. But one summer, 10 years back, stickball was a passion of mine. I grew up in PA. My brother, two friends, and I took broom stick handles or shovel handles and discarded and used tennis balls to play our passion that summer of ’95: stickball. We played on tennis courts at The Park where we lived. Home plate was the corner of the court where the lines met. There were no bases; it was more like home run derby. The man playing outfield was dubbed the “robber”. He was stationed in the doorway at the other end of the court where the third base line would have been, had we bases. He had to stay in the treshold there until the ball made contact with the stick. He then was allowedd to field the fly, and if he caught it, that was an automatic three outs. The other player was obviously the pitcher. We never really stressed strategic pitching, though; the competition was between the robber and the batter. You had to hit the ball on a fly out of the first court or it was an out. If you hit the ball into the next court with out it being caught, that was a 1. If it was hit into the next court but over the tennis net, that was a 2. If you hit the ball over the second fence, it was a three. And, if you were lucky enough to hit the ball up onto the “bumps” ( a steep hill containing a road at the top with speed bumps), which none of us , even the stronger ones, were ever able to do, then that was a six. My brother, the strongest, came closest. I am sure that those reading this wouldn’t agree in calling it stickball; it wouldn’t have the nostalgia attached to it that you or they know. I had my own version of stickball. And for the summer of ’95 it was a passion of mine and my friends that we will never forget: the smashing of the dry-rotted tennis balls; the day I caught a fly over my back with my left hand; the time when it rained so much that there were inches of water on the court; that fact that I was so tan that summer my skin could’ve passed for leather. Stickball to us was exhiliration. It was the reason we assembled at noon ever day. I didn’t have a job then, I was 16. I had a passion, though. It was stickball.
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