I grew up in Greenpoint and we would play 4 corner slapball. We played in the middle of the street on the corner of Jackson and Leonard Streets. In the summer we’d play all day and during the school year we’d play as soon as we got homt. This was a major intersection so we had to be careful and to stop whenever the cars came. By 4:30 it started getting pretty hectic. We also had a sewer on one corner so we had to be real careful not to let the ball go down otherwise you had to fish it out. You couldn’t hit the ball on the fly – just ground balls. If you hit it over the infield you were out. Five guys or more could play per team. We’d play everyday using either the Spaldeen or Pensie Pinkie.
Man, was I surprised and excited to find this site!! First off to Hugh McNally…You’ve done an outstanding job of putting the rules together in an articulate manner. Very professional. (It reads like it was written by a technical writer.) Anyway, I played Skully (or Skelly?) growing up in the Bronx and Queens. The game was slightly different between the neighborhoods I grew up in. In lived in the Bronx until second or third grade. I remember playing first with the broken necks off Coca-Cola or Heinekein bottles which we removed by running the neck-end of the bottles over a manhole cover. Eventually we began using the glides off of the bottoms of chairs and desks. (The desks had large glides, while the chairs had smaller ones.) I remember melting down Crayola crayons into the gliders. (It was pretty cool trying to customize the colors in your cap for that unique look.) I remember just using the plucking technique. There were two: 1)Flicking the middle finger from contact with the thumb (for power shooting, i.e.- Blasting or for long-distance shots) and 2)Flicking the index finger from underneath the thumb, while using the other three fingers as a brace (much like when shooting pool). This technique worked best for finesse shots (i.e.- hitting your opponent soft enough to keep him around for bait on your next shot, or when shooting around the Skully so that you didn’t get stuck inside, or overshoot your intened box.) After moving to Queens (Springfield Gardens area), I remember using the caps off the Dellwood milk containers. We started weighting them down with candle wax. Wax was surpassed by Playdoh or clay later. But eventually the preferred top came to be the bottoms from Push-Up ice cream. We’d weight them down with multi-colors of clay and scrape them against the ground to help smooth them down underneath. They were awesome!!! We would even put a chrome tire valve cap (taken from a car or bicycle) in the center of the cap and use it as an aiming site! The other technique that I was introduced to in Queens was called, “Flying your cap”. This was usually used for covering very long distances (i.e.- shooting back into town to become (or after becoming?) a Killer.) It could also be used to shoot at any time. (It was preferred when shooting from corner to corner across the board.) This is how we did it: 1)Place the cap in between your thumb and the first digit of your middle finger 2)While keeping your forearm parallel to the ground and against your waist, pull your arm back 3)Push your arm forward briskly, while flicking the first digit of your middle finger forward (much like when some flicks away a cigarette butt) The top should now be propelled forward as it rotates (from the flicking of the finger) and should cover a long, or short distance (dependent on the force of the forwrd arm thrust and the flick of the finger). Using this technique you can hit your opponent from long distances. (Think of the little pistol with the rifle stock that Lee Van Cleef used in “For a Few Dollars More”). I also remember the start line being far enough from the “1” box that you’d be better suited trying to “fly your cap” than to pluck it. The shooting sequence of players was determined by the closest one to the “1” box. I also remember the fun of blasting your opponent so hard that he’d start rolling on his side all the way out of town (he wasn’t allowed to stop it on his own.) I live in California (Bay Area) and am 33 now, but still love to play. I’ve shown this game to my nieces and nephews and they all love it!! I’ve also shown it to a few of my buddies and they love it too! It’s like being a kid all over again. I just moved to a smaller town outside of San Jose, and intend on teaching the kids in the neighborhood and in my new congregation how to play this truly timeless game!!! Anyone out there, please feel free to e-mail me at: thunt [at] obsidianinc [dot] com or NYsquared [at] aol [dot] com P.S.- I also have fond memories of playing Stickball (played in the street or between two walls of a school builing), Ring-O-Leavio, Punchball (with the sponge ball or Pinky), Roundup, Freeze Tag, Dodge Ball, and the favaorite with the girls…Run, Catch, and Kiss.
For the record, I remember we called them “Pensa Pinkies,” but these were the same squashy pink balls that everyone seems to call “Pensie Pinkies”. They were best for stoop ball. I wish I could remember how we played, but the point in our version I’m pretty sure was always how high and far the ball went, not where you bounced it from. We always aimed at the corner of the sidewalk and the street and tried to get the ball to rebound over the heads of our opponents to the opposite side of the street. We played on St. John’s Place in Brooklyn near the Botanical Gardens. This would have been about 1965. The game we called handball was just like baseball except that we hit the ball with our fist instead of a bat.
Wow, people who remember Skully! Just for the record, I remember playing the game in the early 60s, probably about 1965 in Brooklyn. We lived in a dead-end kind of street (St. John’s Place) near the Botanical Gardens, so cars weren’t too much of a problem. As I remember it, only bottle caps were allowed. We called it Skully. The start point was well away from the first box. For some reason I think we referred to using the finger-flick (middle or index finger against thumb) that propelled the cap as “binking.” All the caps I remember were made with crayons on the radiators, although I do remember Mom helping us by creating a double-boiler set-up on the stove to melt wax–she did it, of course, to avoid the waxy mess we’d make on the floors. The other (even messier) method was to fill the cap with crayon chips and then balance it on a hot desk lamp. We always drew the board with chalk. The board was about 5X7 feet. At the end you became a “killer.” We also had the three hits to get someone out and the rule about getting stuck in the center box, but I’m a bit hazy about the rules. This sure brings back memories, though. Does anyone remember “pensapinkies?” did everybody call those squashy pink stickball balls by that name? I think they actually were “Pennsylvania Pinkies.” Speaking of getting Mom angry, to make stickball bats we always cut off somebody’s broom and taped the cut end with black electrician’s tape. Somebody mentioned “Coco-Leavy-o.” Somehow I remember it as just “Cocoleo” but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Help! Now I live in Tokyo, where nobody has any idea what I’m talking about when it comes to street games. Thanks for the memories
I just wanted to put my 2 cents in from the Queens/Nassau line….In the 50’s and 60’s back there the game dictated the ball. Wall stickball, with lots of field area and several players per side – spaldeen. It went further, which was okay under these conditions. Stoop ball from one side of narrow street ( other curb = home run ) – Pensie Pinkie. It was softer, more contollable under those conditions. Life was great: stick ball, stoop ball, wiffle ball, 2-hand touch, 4 horses, Yoo-Hoos, baseball over the radio. Are Pensie Pinkies available anywhere?
Played stick, stoop, punch, hand, box, base and softball in Rego Park, Queens in the late 40s and early 50s. Used spaldeens for the 1st 5, as Pennsy Pinkies were considered inferior in that neighborhood. There were 2 basic versions of stick: 1) balls and strikes against a wall with chalked strike zone (between shoulders and knees of a medium sized kid and about 18″ wide) and pitches thrown on a fly, with a minimum of two players, but no base-running and; 2) in the street with a sewer as home, a car as 1st, another sewer as 2nd and another car as 3rd, pitches on a bounce and base running. This version needed lots of players. Punch ball was like 2nd version of stickball.
On my block, there were a few more games played with either the Spalding ( courser better feel) or Pensie Pinkie. The first was stoop ball. On Haring Street in front of 2450 the stoop consisted of 4 steps. Each step was assigned a point value. The bottom three 100 points if hit directly on the point while the top step 500 points ( more hazardous). Games were for 1000 pts with 5 pts for hitting the stoop and catching it on 1 and only 1 bounce. 10 pts were gotten if the ball hit the stoop and caught on a fly ( not the point area). You were out if the ball was caught with more than one bounce, errored, or missed the stoop entirely(trying to hit the top stoop and failing, and finally hitting one of the elder mean you can’t play here or block the stoop from us using it to go down B00000000.Games could be either one on one or teams.Box ball ( 2 squares of concrete lenthwise), Box baseball ( 3 squares lenthwise), 4 person boxball ( 4 squares in a square pattern) and finally stoopball baseball. Finally I might add, actually the best balls for stickball off the wall was the cheaper no-name ones. They were usually 5 – 10 cents each (spalding 25 cents) softer, either yellow or pink and could be manipulated such that you could throw a really mean sinker Knuckleball, and a wicked slider that broke of the end of the table. Unfortunately they split easier too.
Well…Sure the Spalding was a higher bouncer. Sure the Spalding was a few pennies cheaper. But….The Spalding was also harder. Hence, for punch ball, it hurt like he@@. Also, because it was harder and less forgiving, it was more likely to split in half when use for stick ball. Therefore, I vote for Pensy or Pensie Pinky. It didn’t bruise the knuckles as badley and lasted much longer. That is, of course, if you didn’t lose it over the fence to some nasty’s backyard, on the roof of the school, or down the sewer. Do you remember how we would fish them out of the sewers? Ah, such sweet memories! Also, while I hear that the Spalding can be found available these days, I did come accross one recently. It was made in China. Aside from it’s spherical shape, it bears little resemblence to the original. If I could find the old ones, I would gladly buy a case or two.