In the late 30s and early 40s in Washington Hights (the upper end of Manhattan) we played a game called Baseball Off the Wall. The game was played from one side of the street to the other side of the street. The brick tenament houses had rows of inlaid bricks which was used to bounce the rubber ball off the edge of the brick. If the ball bounced onto the first sidewalk it was a strike. If it bounced on the fly to the first half of the gutter; this side of the manhole cover, it was a single. If it bounced past the manhole cover, but still in the gutter, it was a double. If it bounced on the sidewalk accoss the street it was a triple and if it hit the building it was a home run. If the ball was caught on the fly before it hit the ground, of course, it was an out. The teams were made up of one kid each. We even had leagues going. What fun!
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.
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.
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
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.