that was “chips on the ball!” when it was heading into the sewer (we used metal clothes hangers to retrieve from sewers)or over the garage roof into the woods. Neighbors would see us fishing the sewer (which really smelled like…a sewer) and yell at us “you boys are gonna get polio, I’m gonna tell your mother!”
Spaldings had texture so you could put English on them when you pitched. The only bad thing about them was that they split too easily—one good swing and two halves would go flying. If a couple of kids brought theirs down to play, we’d drop them all from the same height and use whichever one bounced back up the highest—then that owner would yell “chips”!
In Astoria, we called it Ace,King,Queen. Asses. up had to be called in the beginning. We also had rules about who chased the ball if it went into the street. Last player to touch the wall had to get the ball. Chips were often called in case the ball went down the sewer. Spaldeens were the preferred ball but sometimes we used a Pennsy Pinky. We also had a rule that if the ball hit a car after only one bounce you could hit “off the car” legally. We the “Ace” got “out” he went to the end of the line, as did anyone else who faltered. I don’t recall if only the Ace scored points but I think so. A good, low “slice” would generally take out a player. We generally used the sidewalk boxes for each players area. Sometimes we would mark it off with chalk but that usually only happened if the landlord with the sidewalk boxes chased us away!
Love this site! I grew up in Astoria, very familiar with “Last Licks” and “Chips on the Ball”. The home team, or team batting in the bottom of the inning was the team who got “Last licks”. “Chips on the Ball” meant, if the ball was lost or split ( Spaldings had way of splitting at the seams) the person who hit it had to give the guy who brought the ball money to buy a new one.
Gary, I grew up in Howard Beach , Queens and although 12 years your senior, even “back then” we used the term ‘chips on the ball’. Which indictaed the owner of the ball expected to be re-imbumbursed or have the ball replaced by anyone who caused it be lost (sewer, roof top), or broken. And I agree with your definition of “last licks”. Don’t see why anything one of the Yankee announcers (corporate shills) say should bother you. The default is that they’re wrong. I’ve been a Yankee fan since 1956 and this is the worst crew (by far) they’ve ever had.
First I’d like to thank this site. I was startled at my job that no one who I eat lunch with was familiar with the expression “chips on the ball” even though a few are my contemporaries (I’m 43), and they insisted “it must have been a Mineola thing.” I proved them wrong via your site. I am now seeking to clear up something that bothered me a lot this baseball season–hearing Yankee announcer Michael Kay referring to the 9th inning as being “last licks” for both teams. My childhood interpretation from our neighborhood was that ONLY the home team could get “last licks”, because they were the last to have an opportunity to bat. Indeed, in our neighborhood stickball contests, the ONLY advantage of being designated the home team was that you had last licks and the other team didn’t. What say you? Please reply either publicly or privately. Gary callisto [at] optonline [dot] net
Dave B from Sothwest Philly.We played all of those games and it was great.All you needed was a pimple ball and one other guy and you could play games for hours.How many times did we dive in front of the sewer intake to keep the ball from going down the hole.If it made it down the hole the smallest guy got dangled by his feet down the sewer hole.Man did it stink.Does anyone remember “chipsies”?Whoever touched the ball last before it got lost was responsible for buying a new ball and turning it over to the previous owner.
We used to fish the lost spauldeens out of the sewers in astoria projects where I grew up by fashioning a metal coat hanger with a little loop at the bottom enough to lift the ball out of the muck. Someone called “chips” on the ball, 15 cents was couple days of bottle hunting…Yuk…here’s your ball kid.
I’ve been playing Wall-Ball for about 10 years now, I remember when I was little I’d walk by the local schoolyard and see older guy playing this baseball game against the wall. Since then a lot of things have changed. I remember we didn’t have a pitching mound so some kids would take wood chips and cover an area on the grass, eventually it killed all the grass in that area and the Local School board paved it over, so now we have a little strip that resembles a mound. Every Sunday here in Toronto the school is packed with 2-3 games going on side by side. We all use tennis ball and normal baseball bats and play 2 outs and we even have Pilons in the outfield marking the foul lines. We got the Double play rule where if you ground out to the pitcher and theres someone on base ( ghost runner ofcourse)the pitcher would pick up the ball and try to hit the box wherever he was standing and the trick was to get it past the hitter who was trying to block it with the bunt technique. Wall ball or Box baseball has come a long way for us and I hope it continues.
I grew up in the Alfred E. Smith Projects (Catherine and Madison Street intersection) across from P.S. 1. Lived there from 1953-1967 when my family moved to Brooklyn. I remember the Essex Street Markets as well as the “pickle man” on Essex Street. If none of you have not seen it, I highly recommend you watching “Crossing Delancey” starring Amy Irving. It was filmed on location! Shows the handball courts on Essex Street and centers around Amy’s character and the pickle man! Used to go with my mom to the Fulton Fish Market (still remember seeing the dead fish staring at me on the ice there! Later on, we bought fish at a market on Monroe Street. The only supermarket in the area was an A&P that was on Market Street and almost directly under the Manhattan Bridge. I played little league ball at Coleman’s Oval near the Manhattan Bridge (off Cherry Street). Played a lot of stickball at Cherry Street Park, across the street from the then Journal American building on one side and Knickerbocker Village on the other. The Journal American building is now the home to the NY Post. Remember the original hand warmers in the winter time? Right. A 15 cent knish off the knish cart! There was so much to do back there: San Gennaro festival on Mulberry Street, Chinese New Year on Mott Street, the Jewish Deli’s (Katz’s and Issac Gellis were my faves). I went to St. James School on St. James Place. That is the same school that Alfred E. Smith went to. It is also the parish that lays claim to the first American order of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Played lots of chinese handball on St. James Place, on the outside wall of Vanella Funeral Home of all places! Played stickball, slap ball, punchball, stoop ball, all with the Spaldeen. Much prefered that over the Pensie Pinky. I can still hear the echoes of “chips on the ball, 25 cents” before playing a game of ball. Anyone here remember making the chalk socks? You take about 5 big sidewalk chalks put them inside a sock, smash them a bit, tie the sock up and then sneak up on someone and bop them with the sock! It didn’t really hurt but was kind of funny to see the shocked face and the chalk smoke linger a moment in the air over the unsuspecting victim! In my neighborhood we called them Mama Lucci’s. Maybe it was called that because I lived so close to Little Italy. Anyone here remember “salugee”? This was a spontaneous devilish game where you would take a personal item from someone and then keep it from them as you threw it to your friends (keep away). After a while some wise guy would start daring you to “roof it” and you would throw the object towards the roof of the many cold water flats of the area. What rotten kids! I have been contemplating writing a book about growing up in NYC in that time period, illustrating the various street games, rituals, etc. that made that little part of NY so special. If anyone would like to contact me. Bill