PS186 in Brooklyn: Sponge Ball: Basically a pitcher and batter. Box painted on the wall represents strike zone. Baseball wiht no running, the father you hit the ball the bigger hit you got Other huge games Ace King queen wiffle ball triangle ringolevio off the wall i declare war In winter, skitchin as well as bombing passing cars withe ice balls from the corner
What neighborhood in Brooklyn were you from? We’ve been finding that Stickball in Manhattan was mainly slow pitch, in the Bronx fungo (hitting by yourself). IN Queens – fastpitch, wall ball – or what was jsut called stickball was played mainly as you describe. In fact, we’ve just talked to someone who has a L.I City Queens league based on this. Brooklyn seems to have had a combination.
On my block, there were a few more games played with either the Spalding ( courser better feel) or Pensie Pinkie. The first was stoop ball. On Haring Street in front of 2450 the stoop consisted of 4 steps. Each step was assigned a point value. The bottom three 100 points if hit directly on the point while the top step 500 points ( more hazardous). Games were for 1000 pts with 5 pts for hitting the stoop and catching it on 1 and only 1 bounce. 10 pts were gotten if the ball hit the stoop and caught on a fly ( not the point area). You were out if the ball was caught with more than one bounce, errored, or missed the stoop entirely(trying to hit the top stoop and failing, and finally hitting one of the elder mean you can’t play here or block the stoop from us using it to go down B00000000.Games could be either one on one or teams.Box ball ( 2 squares of concrete lenthwise), Box baseball ( 3 squares lenthwise), 4 person boxball ( 4 squares in a square pattern) and finally stoopball baseball. Finally I might add, actually the best balls for stickball off the wall was the cheaper no-name ones. They were usually 5 – 10 cents each (spalding 25 cents) softer, either yellow or pink and could be manipulated such that you could throw a really mean sinker Knuckleball, and a wicked slider that broke of the end of the table. Unfortunately they split easier too.
It’s great to see other city dwellers sharing their memories about what WE used to play. It is a far cry from little league and soccer moms. I grew up 6 blocks SE of Wrigley Field, before it was “the place to be.” We were busy playing “baseball” while we heard the crowds cheer (rarely!). We played in a back yard which was cement. Overhand pitching of a tennis ball against a mesh net. No balls or strikes. Just hitting. Invisible base runners if the teams were small. On the roof was an automatic out; off the wall of 443 was in play (our own “Green Monster”). We also played football with an all-time quarterback (the only kid w/an acurate arm). Our field was a 100′ driveway w/an equal width patch of grass along side it. It was tag/tackle. You could run on the cement for speed, then cut to the grass to avoid being tagged. Handball, dodge ball, and schmear the queer rounded out our list. I share these games with my 4 kids in central Illinois hoping the rich traditions will spread on the playgrounds. I’d love a reunion w/all the friends who used to play so we could show our kids what sports really are!
The PS/JHS 79 schoolyard in Da Bronx was the best place in the world when I was growing up. We had THREE fields in which to play stickball – one for fungo/running bases, two for pitching in. The fungo field became the football field in the fall and winter. We had two punchball areas, a full-court basketball area, a place to place off the point and 3 Steps to Germany… Two great candy stores, a great grocery store, two delis, a pizza place and the BEST luncheonette (the Village Green) all within a couple of blocks of the yard. What more could a kid want or need??
If you are looking for a source to purchase halfballs contact me at sedonamax [at] aol [dot] com I grew up in the Logan section of Philly. We played two ways. Sidearm, with balls and strikes. Underhand, one swing and you were out. If the catcher caught a foul tip you were also out. We play against the wall, 1st story was a single, 2nd was a double, 3rd a triple and if you roofed it, it was a homer. If you caught it off the wall it was an out.
I have written and illustrated a book on “City Games” played with a “pimple ball”. These games include: stickball, wallball, wireball, boxball, miniature,ledgies, points, dinky and the ultimate and most sublime of the street games, halfball. Halfball is one of the greatest games ever, and if anyone has any info or comments regarding these games feel free to e-mail me at bearncrepe [at] aol [dot] com. Thanks, Bob Bu
I grew up in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn in the fifties and sixties. We played both basic versions of stickball, the “strikeout” format, with a box chalked on a wall for the strike zone. We usually played this version down by the East River docks, where the streets were lined with boxy wharehouses. Hits were scored based on which story of the wharehouse on the opposite side of the street the ball hit. First floor was a single, etc. Balls caught off the wall were out. Fast and exciting game, and you could have as few as one per side, because fielding was minimal. Even a hard hit shot simply rebounded off the wharehouse wall. The other format was the one more like baseball. With sewers for home and second and first and third somewhere in between. The ball was pitched underhand on a bounce. Someone with longer fingers (like me) could put spin on the ball to make it move in practically any direction when it bounced. We included the sidewalks as fair territory, but hitting a car on the fly was out. But as most people know, rules varied practically from block to block, and it was advisable to get them straight before playing on an “away” court. One time we were visiting another team, and they tried to tell us we forfiet the game because we lost the ball. With these and other games we would keep ourselves busy all day. When I go back to the neighborhood, I don’t see anyone playing street ball, and I wonder what they’re doing with their time.
I grew up in the 50’s in Brighton, a part of Boston. We played 2 versions of halfball, usually with 2 players per side. There was a wall version where anything off the wall was a hit, depending on height. However, if a fielder caught a line drive or a rebound off the wall, all baserunners were erased. In the street version we hit for distance. Strikes and fouls were outs. Believe it or not, there was a front page story in the Wall St. Journal in 1985 about the summer joys of halfball.(I still have it). It claimed that the game was only played in two cities: Boston and Philadelphia, and the best teams from those areas were about to play the 1985 “World Championship” tournament in a schoolyard in Charlestown, Mass.