Flipping baseball cards was one of many gambling games played in Far Rockaway, N.Y. The others being marbles and tops. We had two variations: 1. Closest to a wall – Standing a determined distance from a wall, each player would flip a card frisbi-like with a flick of the wrist towards the wall. The winner would be the closest card to the wall. A leaner (leaning against the wall) would beat a card laying flat on the ground touching the wall. If two card were touching the wall laying flat on the ground, the top one won. If two cards were leaners, the most vertical card won. The winner kept all of the card in play. The big dilemma was that crisp new cards flipped best, but who wanted to lose a crisp new card? 2. Flipping Heads or Tails – By swinging your arm in an upwards motion and releasing the card just as the arm started up, the card would overturn and land on the ground either heads up or down. There were alternate ways of flipping the card, but this one was by far the most popular and effective. The goal was to meet the pre-negociated arrangement. Sometimes it would be simply to match the number of heads and tails. Sometimes it would be to match the exact order and number of heads and tails (ie; 6 heads, 1 tail, 3 heads). The number of cards could be 1 to whatever. Of course, if the matcher met the challenge, he kept all of the cards. As with the flipping dilemma, the crappier cards that you didn’t care about were more difficult to control. Gottem, needem was the universal language for trading.
What a find! I was always interested in collecting baseball cards because I had some from my older brother, and loved baseball. Back in about 1970 or 71, the official “hobby” of collectibles was still quite young. I was starting to buy cards from dealers. By today’s standards they were quite cheap. Cards like Jackie Robinson or Willie Mays from 1956 sold for $6 or $7, as shown in publications like The Trader Speaks. My friend David and I, also a collector cards, heard of a sale in Brooklyn. We lived in eastern Queens, so we understood this would be a long ride. We decided to take the bus and train and each brought a couple of hundred bucks, hoping we’d get “lucky.” When we got out of the train, we realized were in a pretty tough section of Bedford Stuyvesant (2 Black Panther Storefronts within the couple of blocks from the train). David was black, and I’m white and though we both had a fairly good street sense, we realized we were a bit out of our element. At 16 between the long ride, train transfers and different neighborhood, it felt like a long way from home. We went to the home of a guy named Ronald Moore, an early collector. Ronald was both friendly and very knowledgeable about the collectibles. He showed us his collectible items and early hobby publications “The Sports Hobbyist” (circa ’60, ’61). Ronald had to leave town, and in order to raise some cash was doing a big “fire sale.” He had stacks of excellent condition Topps baseball cards from 1957-1962, doubles and triples of Mays, Mantle, Clemente, Kaline. Oh Wow! Hobby-heaven. We walked out of there, each of us carrying 2 or 3 shopping bags of cards. David and I were both able to make nearly full sets of cards for those years, with plenty of doubles to spare. It was only years later that I realized what a “find” this was. This provided the base for my collection as well as a nice economic cushion, which helped me for example, to pay moving costs into different NYC apartments.
To bfzeiger … YES! My girlfriend and I collected and traded those charms. I remember going to one particular machine over and over again, trying to get the “featured” charm – A worm in a red apple. When you turned the top half of the apple, a worm poked it’s head out. I have the apple and some of of the other charms today … I treasure them … Now, I’ve moved on to bigger and better things … Like talking refrigerator magnets. ; )
Any of you collect plastic charms? I remember I had a pre-Tupperware container FULL of false teeth, plastic coke bottles, plastic animals…. you could trade them and stuff…..Our kids later had charms, but they were bigger and purchased– not “won” with a lucky turn of the knob.
Other games with baseball cards: 1) Trying to flip a card the farthest and winning the round. How to cheat: glue two cards together. 2) Set a card leaning against a wall and try to knock it down from across the area (often done in the lobby of an apartment building). Winner keeps everyone’s attempts. 3) Flipping across the lobby–closest to the opposite wall wins all the cards that were flipped that round. 4) A game I could never appreciate: Two players–one flips a card to the ground at his feet, noting whether it was heads (the picture of the ball player) or tails (the statistics). The opponent would have to match the toss–heads or tails–to win your card, or fail to match it and lose his.
Yo, slick…I actually laughed out loud upon reading freshgo’s entry (gottem, needem, etc.). There’s nothing quite like having something sweet dredged up from deep down in memory. Thanks, I needem.
This is a sidewalk game of skill called “Pack.” The currency for payoffs was in “tickets” (cards); these were usually movie star cards or WWII cards depicting airplanes, ships, or war scenes. The only piece of equipment was a pack of cards (these could be ordinary playing cards) tied up with rubber bands or tape. The “court” consisted of four sidewalk boxes in a row. At one end was the base or starting line. Three boxes away (i.e. at the start of the fourth box) was the LINE. Assume that an order of play was agreed upon (more about this later). Then, in turn, one tossed his pack from the base line toward the LINE. Closest to (or on) the LINE determined the order of play for the rest of this round. If more than one was on the LINE, priority went to the later ones. To play, one picks up his pack and kneels, putting one knee where the pack was. With the other arm not on the ground for balance, one would toss (or place) his pack. One had to get his pack on the LINE to convert his pack into a KING; for only a KING could “capture” another pack. To capture another pack, your pack must lie on top of his (leaning but partially on top is OK). The captured player pays the capturing player one ticket and removes his pack from this round of the game. Getting on the LINE or capturing lets you immediately play again. The round ceases when all but one pack remains. Playing order for the beginning of the next round is the order in which players were captured in the previous round. Obviously it is good to be last (so that you can either go for the LINE or drop quite short of it to avoid being captured early. The last player to begin the round is called LARRY. How to start the game: Someone says “Let’s play pack.” Everyone immediately yells, “Larry.” Somehow (by oldest or bulliest player making an arbitrary decision) they agree on the order in which people yelled “Larry.” The first one who yelled “Larry” gets to go last; the second one, next to last, etc. Bad features: Parents did not approve of this for two reasons: (1) It promoted gambling, little kids invariably lost all their tickets to the big kids with their longer reach. (2) Very quickly, a hole would be worn in your right knee of your best corduroy pants. Good feature: It encouraged the purchasing of “tickets”: These usually came in a strip of eight which had to be cut apart. Much war history was learned by kids reading the backs of their tickets.