In St Albans, Queens, Galway ave to be exact, in the 50-60s we played a game called “running bases” which sounds like the previous positings “pickle”, “hot box”, or “monkey in the middle”. On either side of the street were the two baseman and a bunch of the kids were in the middle. You had to avoid being tagged out as you ran from base to base. It is like a run down in baseball also known as a pickle. Sometimes if you were tagged out you were out of the game until the last person was tagged out. I believe other times you exchanged places and became the baseman. The bases were safe areas and you could stay on them. Only co-ed game back then.
Any self respecting kid that grew up in the 50-60s in St.Albans, Queens and went to PS 118 knows that Pensie-Pinkies rule. Its called pensie-pinkie because it had a keystone stamped on the pink ball. The state symbol for Pensylvania is the keystone. The nick name for Pensylvania is the “Keystone state”-hence Pensie short for Pensylvania. I found this site looking for Skelly/Scully rules. Great site. I played all the usual street games including stoop ball, chinese handball, stickball etc. A kid couldn’t live without a Pensie. ANYONE HEAR OF RUNNING BASES??? Two “basemen” on either side of the street and a bunch of kids in the middle. The object was to tag the kids out as they ran back and forth between the two bases. It was like a run down in baseball. One of the few co-ed games at the time. Girls were so icky back then. This site brought back many wonderful memories.
Trying to find more about Kick the Can. I remember two versions. One a hide and seek type game and the other was called kicked the can running bases in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. It basically was a baseball (or stickball) type game that began when the kicker (the batter) kicked the can and began running towards first. Don’t remember much after that, like how one was tagged out, etc.
I still have a 1966 pimple ball. We used two driveways for boxball in case we got chased from one or there was hanging wash in the way. Our stickball field was a bank parking lot behind Castor Ave; homers had to cross the lot and the street. Handball was played at recess and lunchtime at Carnell. For Deadbox, we put an extra cork in bottlecaps for added weight and control. We called manhunt “wolf”; kids on my street today play the same game and call it “freedom.” Running bases was for all the kids (including girls) of all ages, not just us “athletes.”
Our playing field was sandwiched between a five-story Catholic school and a six-story tenement. At the base of the tenement building our concrete stoop was located, protruding about four inches from the sidewalk and about three inches back toward the building; it was no more than a foot in length. Practice and precision were the key elements. Hitting the point of the stoop with that gum-colored spaldeen produced nasty line drives that were extremely difficult for the infielder to handle. However, not ever hitter found the point that easily; one had to master the stoop to constantly catch the point–striking the point with the ball was an art in itself. The field was cobblestone blocks (the old city streets before the tar paving), and the grounders were tricky. Infielders developed good hands and good instincts staying with those hard grounders that could shoot upwards toward your face anytime, scooping those grounds off the cobblestone was another skill in itself. The Catholic school was across the street from the stoop and hitter. When we would play with only one or two guys on a team (Not running bases), we’d use these rules: a line drive to the first floor of the school was a double; a drive to the second floor a triple; and, a shot to the third floor a home run. However, if the fielder caught the ball as it ricoceted off the school BEFORE it touched the ground, the hitter was out. But, when we had enough guys to play running bases (usually about five players on a team), we had to resort to the regular rules of baseball. The most beautiful thing about our stoop, though, was that it was next to the corner candy store. A spaldeen, a few kids around, fifteen cents in your pocket, a Saturday–you couldn’t ask for anything better.
What is this “league” stuff? Where were the leagues in 1947? Every game was a one-time event that lasted until someone had to leave or it got dark. Moms were home fixin’ dinner and Dads were working. In Queens, the games in the street were played with as few as two people per side: one pitched and one played the outfield. The catcher may have been a fifth person who caught for both teams or until someone had to go. The ball used was a Spaulding but it was pronounced “spaldeen.” It was also called a Pink Pearl and cost 15 cents. The bats were old broomsticks sawed off — nothing fancier, no tape (what was tape?) and certainly not store bought. Two kinds of pitching were allowed: “no flukin’” meant you had to throw the pitch in on a bounce without spinning the ball. “Flukin’” meant you could pitch it in on a bounce and put spin on the ball. The usual car fenders and sewer plates were bases. The other game where the ball was thrown in a line into a box on the wall was called “steam.” This apparently was a Queens only expression. No running bases. If you grounded the ball past the pitcher, you got a single; past the pitcher into the fence (in the schoolyard) on a fly was a double; over the fence was a triple; and over the fence and across the street into someone’s front yard was a home run. There were lots of local variations depending upon geography (walls, fences, front lawns, fenders) but these were the games before leagues, before television, before Moms and Dads ran things, back in the days of really loud street arguments by ten year old males (only) over whether a ball was fair or foul. No political correctness. And all the games ended when these males got to be about 13 or 14 years old and went to high school. This is ultimate truth I’m talking about… not what your father told you about how he played and you adopted the stories as if they were your own. Dassit.
In the early days in Sunnyside, Queens, when we were kids, we didn’t have a lot of space to run around in our little courtyard. Our ball games were usually against a brick wall or on concrete pavement. All the boys and girls played together – running bases, stick and boxball, single-double-triple, etc. Of course the girls did the A My Name is Alice thing, and we also played Hit the Ball on the Penny. For all these games, the ball of choice was almost always a Spaldeen. They had a good feel and a good bounce – and, as I recall, a good smell when they were brand new (that didn’t last long, maybe two paces out of the store and that was it…)
Punchball, running bases, kickball, and stickball were the popular games in our parkinglot behind our apartment building. The playing field was an asphalt driveway that was actually wide enough to place bases around the “field”. The driveway was on an incline and homebase was at the bottom of the driveway, so you were always kicking or punching the ball up the hill. The Spaldeen ball was the classic ball for punchball. I would always renew my supply at the candystore, but I would only use my one and only ball until it was forever lost (in the sewer, a car ran over it). My kids are 10 and 12 years old now. At that age I was playing in the street all the time, nothing was organized, no carpools… the housephone rang and someone told you to come outside in the back..We played for hours, going from one game to another, until Rudy, the super, would come chasing after us yelling in his thick German accent, scaring the crap out of us, and breaking up the games.. only for the moment. And then there was Building Tag, where the doorman was base The stories are endless, but I really want to find out where I could buy a Spaldeen ball? Laurie, orginally from Riverdale, the Bronx, now in Shaker Heights, Ohio.