that was “chips on the ball!” when it was heading into the sewer (we used metal clothes hangers to retrieve from sewers)or over the garage roof into the woods. Neighbors would see us fishing the sewer (which really smelled like…a sewer) and yell at us “you boys are gonna get polio, I’m gonna tell your mother!”
I grew up in Queens Village. We played “pinkball” variety of handball at Alley Pond Park just inside the Union Tpke entrance (you went under the old Vanderbilt MotorPkway bridge). This was in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Our courts were “one wall.” There was some alternation between Spauldeens and Pennsy Pinkies, but we finally pretty much settled on the Pennsies. It seemed the Spauldeens were being made smaller and the rubber thicker. They didn’t move as well. Now the Pennsies had a bit too much bounce to them, so we’d “pin” them. I carried a safety pin attached to my belt loop. When we got a new ball we’d simply push the pin through the skin and it then would bounce just right. We usually got our balls from Michael’s Candy Store on Hillside Avenue where Bell Park Manor and Terrace Apartments were (and are). The owners of Michael’s back in the day had a sign on the box holding the balls: “If you bounce it you bought it.” Oh, and yes sir, those were the days!
In South Philly the halfball base hits were: 1) Single if ball makes far curb without being caught 2) Double if ball hits first floor windows and not caught 3) Tripple if ball hits second floor windows and not caught 4) Home Run ball makes it to the roof and stays up there. Every one aspired to be called a roofer. One swing per at bat, wiff or foul ball your out.
Spaldings had texture so you could put English on them when you pitched. The only bad thing about them was that they split too easily—one good swing and two halves would go flying. If a couple of kids brought theirs down to play, we’d drop them all from the same height and use whichever one bounced back up the highest—then that owner would yell “chips”!
Growing up in “The Projecks” as pronounced it, the best ball for playing stoop was the Pensie-Pinkie. I’ve heard people say that these were great for punch ball also but they were harder and tougher on the knuckles. There was no feeling – or sound – like hitting a Pinkie off the “sweet spot” the protective metal on a housing project stoop.
In the Norwood section of the Bronx in the ’50’s and 60’s we played with Spaldeens or Seconds which were cheaper. Mostly punchball or stickball. The P.S. 94 schoolyard had a concrete diamond for punchball and a big concrete wall with a stike zone drawn on it for stickball.