Born in Brooklyn in 1959 and grew up in Sheepshead Bay around Ocean Parkway between Y & Z (Manhattan Court). I moved to Rochester, NY in 1980 after graduating from college to work for Eastman Kodak. I am 39 now with two kids and my boy is 9 years old. We where home (I still call Brooklyn home) this weekend and I played stickball with my son. The school yard (PS 209) I used to play in is under some kind of destruction/construction so this was just an introduction. It was great to be out there again. Can’t wait until I get my hands on a Spalding though. Pensee-pinkie’s where better. The Spalding’s used to crack in half. I still have my stickball bat from the 70’s so I remembered to bring that along. Remember how many sneakers we used to go through because the toes would be gone from pitching. I remember begging my Mom to buy me PUMA’s when they first came out. I never liked those heavy ADIDA’s. They where $20.00 back 25 years ago. After our little stick ball game I introduced him to PUNCH BALL. We then went home and played “HIT THE PENNY”, “5 boxes”, and “Box Tennis”. I even had a chance to grab a Nathan’s frankfurter and a BAG of fries in Coney Island. I think they still use the same grease for the fries.
I have written and illustrated a book on “City Games” played with a “pimple ball”. These games include: stickball, wallball, wireball, boxball, miniature,ledgies, points, dinky and the ultimate and most sublime of the street games, halfball. Halfball is one of the greatest games ever, and if anyone has any info or comments regarding these games feel free to e-mail me at bearncrepe [at] aol [dot] com. Thanks, Bob Bu
Hey Joel – is that you? I still remember standing in the playground outside of Building 18 in Rochdale, your pinky pointing at me and trembling, thinking you’ll finally win one of those thousands of bets we made. But, posting as “Anonymous” – I guess you’re still not sure, after all these years.
I, too, grew up in East New York in the 50s. And I certainly remember A my name is Alice…. I’m trying to teach it to my daughter but it just doesn’t work with the large beach balls. Where are those pinky balls anyway? Other girl games I remember involved jumping rope. I recall that I was VERY good at double dutch. It was alot of fun. Double dutch involved two girls at the opposite end of two jump ropes – one rope in each hand, each rope sort of crossing over each other. The jumper would have to start in one of the corners and jump really quickly over each rope as it landed and flew up off the ground. This is too difficult to explain but very easy to do. What great memories.
Growing up in the East New York section of Brooklyn in the ’50s and ’60s meant being out on the sidewalk after school and during the summer. One of the games that we girls played with a bouncing pink rubber ball; either a Spauldeen or Pensy Pinky, entailed crossing your leg over the ball as you “sang” verses that had changed names, places and products based on the letters of the alphabet. We started with: A my name is…….. And my husband’s name is……… We come from………… And we sell………… It went on as long as you didn’t miss crossing over the ball. We competed to see who could go through the whole alphabet with a mistake or repeating someone else’s choices. Lots of giggles accompanied this game as the choices narrowed and became more difficult. The letter “Q” was always a tough one. Ellen Grove
Halfball I dream of the summer of ’61 when Roger Maris was engaged in his assault on the Babe’s record and for some uncanny reason I became the King of The Home Run in an Atlantic City half ball league. We played this most enjoyable of all the street games with a cut in two star ball, pimple ball or the rare pink ball. Fast pitch or underhand lob, it didn’t make a difference. The excitement was always there. I couldn’t hit squat on a regular diamond but half ball was my ticket to fame. Geez! I’m now living in Southern Cal and as soon as I’m done writing this note, I’m going out to the garage, cut off a broom handle and slice a few tennis balls. I’m going to show my seventeen year old surfer the real sport of summer.
Two players were separated by three squares of sidewalk pavement. One player ‘pitched’ the ball, a pinky, into the box closest to the other player. If the ball missed the box, it was a walk. If the ball landed in the box, the batter slapped the ball, trying to get it to land in the box closest to the pitcher. If he succeeded, each bounce of the ball was another base–one bounce, single, two bounces, double, etc. If the ball landed anywhere but in the box, or was caught on the fly, one out was recorded. The pitcher always attempted to ‘fluke’ the ball so the batter missed it.
two people were separated by four squares of sidewalk pavement. With a pinky, you had to bounce the ball in the boxes, without hitting the lines and without your opponent catching the ball before it bounced in the box closest to him. You had to bounce the ball in a progression, starting with the box closest to the opponent, then the two boxes closest, then three boxes, then all four boxes, with one bounce in each box only. It’s hard to explain, easier with a diagram.
We statred out using an old mop handle as our “stick,” but as we got older we would pool our money and go to the local lumber yard and buy a 32-34″ piece of closet pole and wrap the bottom with black sticky electric tape (before the pine tar era). We even graduated to an old beaten up tennis ball rather than a pinky.