Thats chinese handball! or ace, king, queen. I dont remember it being called slug. Names of games changed in all areas of ny in the 1960’s.In QUEENS it was,hey you wanna play ‘chinese’. We played in the school park against the brick wall of a park bathroom building.We used a spaldeen.It was a very fast game,played low to the ground,and wore out alot of Keds sneakers. You had to find a good place with a wall or fence in back of you,so you didnt have to chase the ball.
I am from Flushing Queens, where we would usually buy Pensie Pinkies and Spaldeens from Joe’s, which was the nearest candy store. Sometimes when I had no money, I ‘d swipe a Pensie from my sister, who, along with her friends, used them mostly in an activity that involved keeping the ball in bounce while reciting different rhymes that were punctuated by passing their legs over the ball before it would bounce back up. I lived on a hill where many of these balls ended up in the sewer at the end of the block. You could retrieve them using a garden rake, but if they remained in the water too long, they almost certainly went dead. We used to play stick ball, box ball, Chinese handball, catch a fly and you’re up, and many, many more games using them. As I recall, the favored brand for stickball at least, was Spalding, but I never observed too much difference between the two.
IT WAS THE 60’S. Growing up in Mid-town Manhatten, East 79th St. to be exact. EVERY SINGLE DAY after school (PS 190 on 82nd st.) the Chinese Handball Games got started. It was me and Dennis Gross, Toby Edwards, Cam, Seth Rosten, and some other guys. We would play for hours. 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 4:45 pm we would start to leave, but there was always a couple of guys who would hold out until the very end… right up til the time the streetlights would come on. Once they started to flicker, you better run home, because it meant you were right at the supper deadline. If you were late, you didn’t eat. That was the rules. Anyway, Chinese Handball ruled, and we didn’t like it when the losing kids would leave early, because it meant we couldn’t nail ’em with Asses Up. Man, those were the days – so innocent. It seems like a dream. But, it really happened. I was there. I saw America when it played – before it lost it’s soul. I grew up in an America that had heart. Now, people just want to have virtual fun, play artificial games, and rather than having the heart to pursue their own passions, they sit at home, content to watch reality shows in which other people pursue their passions. Man, I would love to play just one more game of Chinese handball with Dennis and Toby. You guys out there, anywhere?
Just expanding on the comment above– we didn’t start playing stickball in my neighborhood until late teens, maybe adulthood. I wonder if that’s common? I see I posted in the chinese handball section a number of years back that chinese was the ONLY game we played, which was indeed the case until maybe 13-14 years old, when for some reason we switched to stickball, softball, etc. Anybody else do that?
We played at PS 166 in Astoria (33 St & 35 Ave)well into our 20s, usually one-on-one. We’d chalk or paint a strikezone on the wall and use a tennis ball, which was much more controllable and harder to hit for distance than a spaldeen. (I used to carry in my trunk a can of spraypaint and my ancient taped-up bat which had shortened drastically over the years from splintering at the ends and propping up a buddy’s air conditioner.) The pitcher’s line was about 50 ft away. Two outs per inning, grounders fielded cleanly and caught fly balls were outs. Any fairly placed hit that stayed in the yard was a single, in the street was a double, against the 3-story buildings across the street a triple, and over the buildings a homer. As we got older and the bat shorter, homeruns declined and eventually ceased entirely. There was a deli on the corner and a souvlaki stand on the next block. We’d drink beer and stuff our faces between games. Next day would invariably entail total immobility due to back injury suffered from pitching 36-45 innings without warm-up, and this only got worse as we got older. When my buddy and I moved to LA we tried playing in a couple of schoolyards (I think Palms Jr. High was one of them?) but it wasn’t the same. Since then PS 166 built a new structure which filled their yard so the entire venue no longer exists. I also played a LOT of chinese handball, but with slightly different rules than those I’ve seen elsewhere. All obstacles are in the field of play, one bounce to the car and one bounce off is still alive, the ball only has to hit the wall inbounds– we played on a handball wall or against the supermarket without ace/king/queen boxes– but can bounce out and still be live. This encouraged getting up close on the wall for a steep angle and slamming it down the block. Taught it to a couple of friends in Texas years later and they loved it. The quality of play in different neighborhoods (and on different blocks within the same neighborhhod) varied tremendously. When I was an early teen, the quality of play on my turf was significantly higher than that I saw in Jackson Heights or Elmhurst, but that’s probably changed many times over the years. I still have an outstanding challenge with a childhood chum who’s now a lawyer in Philly (he grew up next to PS 2 near LaGuardia) that I’ll spot him 19 points in a game to 21 and he’s been ducking me for over 30 years on this. Hope he reads this…
Several years ago, I was trying to explain the game of skully (skullies) to my wife, when I came upon this site. I told my brother and sisters about it, and haven’t been back here since. Recently, we were talking about other games we played in the city (Bronx) and we all remembered the game SLUGS. We never knew it as any other name, no one on the block called it Chinese Handball, Ace-King-Queen, etc. It was always known by us, and everyone around the block, as SLUGS. We lived and played this game around 181 St., on Valentine Ave, and over at P.S. 9/115, which isn’t even called that anymore (damn, imagine that, they changed our school names). Guess I shouldn’t be surprised, it’s been 30 years since I lived and played in the Bronx. Can’t tell you how much I miss playing stickball, and off-the-point (stoop-ball), off-the-wall and skullies (we use to take the school chairs into the hallway or stairs where they had those big iron grids covering the radiators, the grids just the right size to pop the metal chair slide off the bottom of the chairs – which we all know kicked ass over the bottle cap tops, or the bottle rings tops). And then there was kick-the-can, Ringoleavio, and on a hot summer day, we open up those fire hydrants and use a can with the lid removed on both ends to direct volumes of arching water all over… damn, it was great. Anyway… just wanted to share, and will be forwarding this forum to my brother and sisters so that they too can be assured, we weren’t fooling ourselves… it was called SLUGS.
I played Chinese handball in Flatbush, roughly 1957-1962. A fine game. Our local version had no ace–it was King, Queen Jack, 10, 9,……….and then “salt mines”. A bad bounce would immediately result in a cry of HINDOO! In most cases, a hindoo would result in a do-over.
i played chinese handball and i love it my way is much much more lenient. we dont have boxes whatsoever and the last person playing handball was the ace-killer because he was so far away from the ace it made it harder for the ace to get it. I learned many different variations of it including one where your allowed to let the ball hit the floor twice but u have to hit the ball onto the wall similarly like american. I also played watermelon which was not my favorite. I also played asses up but only the person who got the other person out could hit him. Oh well. Im tryin to learn how to cut.
Original author: twentythreeallstars (23allstars) [e-mail]
this game is grade “A”trash and needs to be in the city dump are there any trophies to be won in this type of handball i dont think so all of you so call “chinese handballplayers” need to jump off the twenty three allstar eljefe layin the law down
So glad I found this site. I played Chinese handball in Manhattan in the late 70s. I remember a favorite trick among my friends was to give the ball a lot of top spin on the return hit, so that when it came off the wall, it would hit the ground and reverse direction from the receiver!