I never found out if there was a law against playing stickball but if the cops droveby a game, they would confiscate the stick, stick it in a manhole cover hole in order to break it, or throw it in the squad car. They never bothered us if we were playing curbball or punchball. I guess the offense was playing with a stick. The Leader was a cheaper ball, white-gray in color, and without the bounce and resiliancy of a Spaldeen. I never heard of Pennsy Pink in the late Thirties and early Forties.
July,1939,The Bronx. Six of us were playing a pickup game on Daley Ave. (between Tremont and 178th St)right in front of the “Mad Doctor’s” house because it always ticked him off. This day he called the cops. As the Squad car rounded the corner, someone yelled, “Cheese it, the Bulls” We scattered to various spots on the sidewalk and tried to look innocent, so that the cops would just keep going. But they didn’t. The stopped in front of the Doctor’s house who came out and began fingering the guys. The cops herded five of the six ( and the stick) into the Squad Car and hauled them down to the 48th Precinct Station. The 6th player (me) had ducked into a doorway and escaped notice. As soon as the coast was clear, I (like Paul Revere)sounded the alarm to a few parents who had to pay a nickle (each way) to take the Tremont Ave. trolley to the police station and “bail out” their kids. The lectures and the warning didn’t impress us because we were back the next day, right in front of the Doctor’s house playing stickball, curbball, stoopball, slugball, and/or boxball. In those days, we paid 5c for a Leader and 15c for a Spaldeen. One day we found a golf ball and used it to play stoopball until I got a great hit that broke a neighbor’s window. We scattered because we knew she was an old grouch and wouldn’t give back the ball.
Here is an unbelievable curb ball story. As i reported earlier we still play this game once a year (30 something gang). About 5 years ago the dept of public works were going around the city replacing the curbs with handicap ramps. We got out city councilman to stop the rennovation on ‘our curb’ so now 1st 2nd and 3rd are handicap ramps while home plate remains a curb .
1 day a year a few friends meet the game they play is in the street a ball is hit against a curb so you can;t play it in the burbs everyone aims for the perfect point if you dont hit it – there is always a joint games are hot out on the black top but no one ever wants to stop sometimes balls fly on the roof when that happens you feel like a goof the game is played extremly hard its more intense than Camden Yard players fight and playesrs swear but you wont find bad blood anywhere so as you can see curb ball is wild just keep on playing it like a child.
How about “Corner Ball”. A four corner intersection was the “field” creating a “diamond”. Needless to say, a Spaldeen was the ball of policy and proceedure. No catcher position was required. The “Batter” took the ball in hand and hit it off the curb. If he missed the curb or hit it foul, he was out. All other rules of stickball applied, (although I can honestly say i have never heard of a guy “roofing it” in curb ball). In the summer on Briggs Avenue, we’d play at least 10-12 games a day while a bunch of other guys would be playing stickball. Now that I think about it, I guess corner ball allowed us to make room for another game to be played simultaneously while you waited to get on the stickball “field”. Of course, at least 4 guys would be off on the side with a game of “Off the Point” going, but that’s a whole other game.