In South Philly our ball of choice was a “pimple ball”, white or rather greyish rubber with 1/8″ dimples with bands running latitudily and stars embossed on both poles. It was used in many games, stickball, wallball, wireball, boxball, miniature,ledgies, points, dinky and the ultimate and most sublime of the street games, Halfball. In further postings I will detail the sublimities of this most enjoyable game.
Two players were separated by three squares of sidewalk pavement. One player ‘pitched’ the ball, a pinky, into the box closest to the other player. If the ball missed the box, it was a walk. If the ball landed in the box, the batter slapped the ball, trying to get it to land in the box closest to the pitcher. If he succeeded, each bounce of the ball was another base–one bounce, single, two bounces, double, etc. If the ball landed anywhere but in the box, or was caught on the fly, one out was recorded. The pitcher always attempted to ‘fluke’ the ball so the batter missed it.
two people were separated by four squares of sidewalk pavement. With a pinky, you had to bounce the ball in the boxes, without hitting the lines and without your opponent catching the ball before it bounced in the box closest to him. You had to bounce the ball in a progression, starting with the box closest to the opponent, then the two boxes closest, then three boxes, then all four boxes, with one bounce in each box only. It’s hard to explain, easier with a diagram.
I used to live on Madison Street in Ridgewood. We used to play stickball all the time. Even though I was a girl, they let me play. I only got one stitch in my entire life. I got it by waiting to get up to bat playing stickball. The guy before me hit the ball and threw the bat. The bat flew into my head just above my eye. Ouch! Did that hurt! When we first moved out to LI, we continued playing stickball at first, but then we started playing softball and kickball in the street. But since we had a stoop, we could still play stoopball.
Stoop Ball — As played in the early ’60’s on Ave Z and E. 13 Street. Our stoop was a brick structure 5 steps high. We had to stand at least 2 “boxes” (lines in the cement) back. You threw the ball at the stoop, and had to catch the bouce-back in no more than one bounce. Catching it on one bounce was 5 points, with no bounce, 10 points. If the ball shot back, straight at you because it hit the tip of the step, and you caught it “on the fly”, it was 50 points. — Very hard to do. You continued your turn until you couldn’t catch it on the first bounce. Usually 100 points won the game.
We played with pitching against a wall with a chalk strikezone. It was a deadend street in Brooklyn that backed onto what we called the Long Island Railroad–actually the freight line. Past the pitcher on the ground was a single, unless caught. Over the fence and down to the tracks was an out, unless it made it all the way down the hill on a fly, in which case it was a double. Up the hill on the other side was a triple. All the way across the tracks and the fence on the other side was a home run. Over the top of the 6 story building that was across the tracks on the other side was a grand slam. We used to have to stop and go down to the tracks and get the balls to restart the game. You needed 3 or 4 balls if you really wanted to play all day. The BMT was right next to the “field” on the left hand side. Foul balls onto the BMT were only chased if you were out of balls because we would catch hell if our mothers saw us climbing the fence to go onto the subway tracks. We preferred spauldings because you could throw a wicked curve with it. When we first started playing we used broomsticks, but they soon came out with “official” stickball bats. Stickball was the greatest game ever invented. Why isn’t it a professional sport?
Off The Point. Not to be confused with Off The Curb. Front of Building had an Abutment rising about 24″Inches with a angled Top. One player in Middle of street, Second player across street up against wall. You would hit The Point at top of abutment & try to hit Wall across street for a Home Run. No running. Who ever caught Ball (Spaldeen) on fly was up next. This Pink Ball was a way of life in The West Bronx.
To be able to play on Andrews Avenue (West Bronx) each player had to be able to hit a minimum of a sewer. Two Sewers and you were a Strong hitter. Ron & myself were Three sewer hitters making us the Home Run Kings. On rare occasions you hit both Three sweres & over the Six(6) story building. Rules were as previously mentioned – Down The Line – Right car was First – Second was Middle Sewer- Left car was Third. Lived for THIS game – Also same game without Bat was Punchball.
I was thinking of the games we used to play with a Spaldeen. There were games for only one person up through a full baseball team. As I remember them they were: 1 Person Catch with yourself- throw the ball up and catch it. Practicing your pitching against a box on the wall Throwing the ball against the wall to see how high you could throw it. On the roof was the ultimate Throwing the ball off the wall (or stoop) and practicing your catching ability. 2 Persons Box Baseball Hit the penny. Stickball Catch American Handball, paddle ball, etc. Off the wall Stoopball 3 Persons Monkey in the middle Running Bases Salugi (?) or keep away Chinese handball Larger Groups Punchball Slapball I’m sure there are more. But for 25 cents, nothing could beat thatbeautiful pink ball with the word Spaulding stamped on it. We didn’t need our parents making schedules, driving us all over the place. Just us and a little ball, and we were in heaven for hours. Mark Podhorzer Now of Atlanta GA, but in my heart always from Brooklyn