I hadn’t thought about SPUD in a long time. Thanks for reminding me. It was a game we’d play in the yard in Indianapolis in the 1970’s with brothers, sisters and neighbors. It was really fun. Our favorite game as twilight turned into night was Ghost in the Graveyard. The IT (ghost) was chosen and sent to go hide in the bushes or wherever. The rest of us would stand on the stoop with our eyes closed and count: “One o’clock, the ghost’s not here; two o’clock, the ghost’s not here…all the way to…twelve o’clock, the ghost’s not here. We hope to see the ghost tonight!” We would work ourselves into a nervous frenzy counting, and then we’d split up to wander around the yard in search of the ghost. Whenever the ghost decided to come out, the ghost would chase any players. If the ghost tagged you before you made it back to the stoop, you were the next ghost. It was fun and scary.
We did “once-twice-three-shoot” but choosing up usually meant that opposing captains would take turns alternating hand over hand on a bat. Whichever guy’s hand reached the end would have to swing it in a circle three times without letting go. If successful, that person would get to pick first (At least that’s what my feeble memory tells me).
Sixteen Inch Softball and SPUD These are two ways I use to determine if someone grew up in Chicago! Sixteen inch softball was popular because the ball was so big you couldn’t use a glove! Which leveled the field between the haves and have nots. Also, you couldn’t hit the ball very far, so the game was a lot faster paced. You also didn’t need a large firld. Spud was played with a playground ball, or a volley ball. Each player was assigned a number, and someone was chosen to be “it”. Whoever was “it” threw the ball in the air, and called someone’s number. Everyone scattered, except the person who’s number was called. The had to catch the ball and yell “SPUD”. When you heard SPUD, you had to stop where you were. The person who caught the ball was then allowed to take three giant steps toward any player, then throw th ball at them. The person was allowed to dodge, but could not move his feet. If he was hit, he got a letter “S” and was “it”. If the thrower missed, he got the letter, and was “it”. Play continued until someone got S-P-U-D, then they had to go through the spanking machine!
I’m absolutely sure that my friends and I called it “choosing up.” We have an article right here on Streetplay about it, http://www.streetplay.com/stories/hangingout/choosingup.shtml. It’s an interesting topic, though… there must be a million ways to choose up sides. The “hands on the bat” method sounds like the “middle American” way, the way you’d see in a Disney movie. I wonder if there’s even more ways kids did this.