If you are looking for a source to purchase halfballs contact me at sedonamax [at] aol [dot] com I grew up in the Logan section of Philly. We played two ways. Sidearm, with balls and strikes. Underhand, one swing and you were out. If the catcher caught a foul tip you were also out. We play against the wall, 1st story was a single, 2nd was a double, 3rd a triple and if you roofed it, it was a homer. If you caught it off the wall it was an out.
I grew up in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn in the fifties and sixties. We played both basic versions of stickball, the “strikeout” format, with a box chalked on a wall for the strike zone. We usually played this version down by the East River docks, where the streets were lined with boxy wharehouses. Hits were scored based on which story of the wharehouse on the opposite side of the street the ball hit. First floor was a single, etc. Balls caught off the wall were out. Fast and exciting game, and you could have as few as one per side, because fielding was minimal. Even a hard hit shot simply rebounded off the wharehouse wall. The other format was the one more like baseball. With sewers for home and second and first and third somewhere in between. The ball was pitched underhand on a bounce. Someone with longer fingers (like me) could put spin on the ball to make it move in practically any direction when it bounced. We included the sidewalks as fair territory, but hitting a car on the fly was out. But as most people know, rules varied practically from block to block, and it was advisable to get them straight before playing on an “away” court. One time we were visiting another team, and they tried to tell us we forfiet the game because we lost the ball. With these and other games we would keep ourselves busy all day. When I go back to the neighborhood, I don’t see anyone playing street ball, and I wonder what they’re doing with their time.
I grew up in the 50’s in Brighton, a part of Boston. We played 2 versions of halfball, usually with 2 players per side. There was a wall version where anything off the wall was a hit, depending on height. However, if a fielder caught a line drive or a rebound off the wall, all baserunners were erased. In the street version we hit for distance. Strikes and fouls were outs. Believe it or not, there was a front page story in the Wall St. Journal in 1985 about the summer joys of halfball.(I still have it). It claimed that the game was only played in two cities: Boston and Philadelphia, and the best teams from those areas were about to play the 1985 “World Championship” tournament in a schoolyard in Charlestown, Mass.
In the late 30s and early 40s in Washington Hights (the upper end of Manhattan) we played a game called Baseball Off the Wall. The game was played from one side of the street to the other side of the street. The brick tenament houses had rows of inlaid bricks which was used to bounce the rubber ball off the edge of the brick. If the ball bounced onto the first sidewalk it was a strike. If it bounced on the fly to the first half of the gutter; this side of the manhole cover, it was a single. If it bounced past the manhole cover, but still in the gutter, it was a double. If it bounced on the sidewalk accoss the street it was a triple and if it hit the building it was a home run. If the ball was caught on the fly before it hit the ground, of course, it was an out. The teams were made up of one kid each. We even had leagues going. What fun!
I was thinking of the games we used to play with a Spaldeen. There were games for only one person up through a full baseball team. As I remember them they were: 1 Person Catch with yourself- throw the ball up and catch it. Practicing your pitching against a box on the wall Throwing the ball against the wall to see how high you could throw it. On the roof was the ultimate Throwing the ball off the wall (or stoop) and practicing your catching ability. 2 Persons Box Baseball Hit the penny. Stickball Catch American Handball, paddle ball, etc. Off the wall Stoopball 3 Persons Monkey in the middle Running Bases Salugi (?) or keep away Chinese handball Larger Groups Punchball Slapball I’m sure there are more. But for 25 cents, nothing could beat thatbeautiful pink ball with the word Spaulding stamped on it. We didn’t need our parents making schedules, driving us all over the place. Just us and a little ball, and we were in heaven for hours. Mark Podhorzer Now of Atlanta GA, but in my heart always from Brooklyn