When I was growing up in the late 50s and early 60s in Bensonhurst Brooklyn, we had own own special stickball field and rules. We hit the ball diagonally across the street. The pitcher threw the ball on a single bounce. He stood on a manhole cover in the center of the intersection of Benson Avenue and Bay 28th Street. Home plate was on the sidewalk in front of the Hebrew School. They did not like us playing there, but we ignored them (even though almost all of us were Jewish). Occasionally the police were called. We would scatter until they left and then would resume the game. Diagonally across the street was the 6 story apartment building where most of us lived. Every grounder or fly ball that was not caught was a single. The only way to get an extra base hit was to hit the ball off the building or onto the building roof. A hit off the 2nd floor was a double, off the 3rd floor a triple, off the 4th floor or higher was a home run. However if the fielder caught the ball on a fly after it hit the building, you were out. It amazes me that we could hit the ball onto the roof of a 6 story building, but every few days somebody would do it. There was a special rule if your batted ball hit the superintendent of our building, who we all hated. That was an automatic grand slam (even if nobody was on base). Our equipment was a “Spaldeen” High Bounce Ball and a broomstick. In later years, thicker professionally made bats began to show up. We called them “tenderizers”. If you used a “tenderizer” it was like current athletes using steroids, you had an unfair advantage. My friends and I would play stickball almost every day the weather was decent. I have great memories of that game.
Original author: Marv Gutkin [e-mail]