This is a South Bronx tale: the setting is mid to late ’60s, Kelly Street 10 hundreds block = longer than most with wall to wall five story tenement buildings. We played stickball starting from the second fire-hydrant sewer lid (homeplate) towards the end of the block. Anything over the “wire” not caught was an automatic homerun. Only two guys ever hit the ball onto the roof of 1069 thanks to a favorable wind: Manny and Junior. We seldom played pitch ball but rather bounced the ball before hitting it or hit it in the air. Balls stuck on fire-escapes or on the roof before the “wire” were outs, down the basements were doubles. sidewalks were all you can run. The wire was a cable hanging across the street behind the second sewer lid which was a few feet behind second base. Only players from our street were allowed to toss their sneakers onto the wire. Those trophies were never taken down. When there weren’t enough guys to play a game, two guys with bats would hit the ball back and forth one from homeplate and the other from the third sewer lid towards homeplate. Spaldeens were the prefered ball, used also for slugs off the wall of Mr. Friar’s building 1045 Kelly Street; or hitting off the stoop of 1048 Kelly Street. Louie, Jorge, Mickey, Augie, Joel, Victor, Junior, Moses, George Pinocchio were the regulars. Stickball on Kelly Street died in 1978 when the whole block was nuked for redevelopment. We also played a mean game of skelzies and had the best aerial kite battles between glass-cord diamonds and razorblade sneekies. Those were the days!
Original author: Louis Acosta [e-mail]