I grew up on Gun Hill Rd halfway between Jerome Ave and Webster Ave. Lived in Norwood(we didnt call it that back then) from 1960 to 1971.A perfect neighborhood to be born into.Leaving as an eleven year old for Southern California was heartbreaking. We played Stickball in the schoolyards of PS94. Fastpitch-box on the wall style. The spaldeen was the ball of choice over the soft and wussy pensie pinky. Does anyone remember splitting a spaldeen when hitting an “eggie” and putting the halves on your elbows? Arrived in Los Angeles suburb of Encino in summer of 1971 and promptly found out that kids had no idea what stickball or spaldeens were. What an underpriviledged culture. All we had were swimming pools,golf courses, and movie stars for neighbors. lol. I wanted the Bronx back. If I could turn the clock back I would still want the bronx back.Money doesn’t buy happiness:for me it was the bronx culture that made me rich. Bill from Gun Hill
I grew up a suburb kid in California, have heard of stickball, never played. I loved reading about all your fond memories of these games, makes me wish I had been around to play too. I would like to guess that the origin of the name Pensie Pinky comes from the fact that the Pennsylvania Keystone was printed on the ball, Pensie might be a nickname for Pennsylvania (?).
This wasn’t really a game per se but a form of keep-away. For example — “Selugee from Condoleezza!!!” and everyone would exclude her from the riotous game of keep away.It was commonly used to torture a younger or less powerful child — taking their special toy or mitt. I grew up in suburban New York in the 1950s and 60s. Anyone? Nomi
We played curb-ball in suburban NJ. It was also called off the curb. The neighborhoods had sidewalks on both sides of the street. In between the sidewalks and the street was a strip of grass about the same width as the sidewalk. When you were up, you threw the ball against the curb, and it rebounded toward your opponent on the other side of the street. If he fielded it cleanly (either in the air or a grounder) you were out. If it made it pass him, or he bobbled it, you got a single. If it landed on the strip of grass (after flying across the street), it was a double. The sidewalk was a triple, and the front yard a home run. If the ball went the other direction, it was foul. The game was the greatest way to improve eye hand coordination and fielding. I miss it.
In Colonie, a suburb of Albany, NY the Statues we played was a variation of Tag. The game was played with approximately four to six players. The person who was “it,” chose a category (most beautiful, funniest, ugliest, most frightening, etc.) of statues before playing started. All players then began running. When the “it” person caught a player, he swung the player around and let him go. The player froze in the landing position, becoming a statue. When all players had been caught and turned into statues, the “it” person chose the best statue in the selected category. The player chosen best statue was then “it” and playing resumed.
We played a game called 7-up, but it was totally different. Odd, because I live about halfway between you^ (suburbs of NYC) 7-up was a game you played in class when you had a nice or ineffective substitute teacher. 7 kids stand up at the blackboard. As all the other kids put their heads down (no peeking!), the seven walk around the room and tap someone on the shoulder. The tapped person raises their hand but still can’t peek. When the 7 return to the blackboard, they call on the people with hands up, who may now look. They try to guess which of the seven tapped them. If they’re right, they’re “up” (and the tapper sits down). If they’re wrong, it’s heads down for another round.
This might have been a just a New Jersey game. We used to play “Kick the Can” on a quiet suburban street. The neighborhood was full of kids in 1969 to about 1974. Anyway the game was played by putting a can on the manhole cover in the street, and the kid who won the previos game would kick the can as far as they could. Everyone would scatter to go run and hide while the kid who was “it” would chase the can and bring it back to home base. When the can touched home base, they yelled “freeze”. Now they had to spot all of the kids hiding, (or trying to hide). The “can” kid would say “tap tap tap on Egg Head behind the Fusco’s bush” (or some other nick name and hiding place) Egg Head (real name Bruce who got a really bad hair cut that summer) would go to “jail” and sit on the curb near home base. The can kid would have to venture away from the can furhter and further in order to find more kids hiding. If he got too far, someone can come out of hiding and “Kick the Can” off home base, which frees all those in jail, and the game starts all over. The only way to win is get everyone in jail. That’s it. Has anyone played this one?
In Suburban St. Louis town of Webster Groves in the 80’s we played a version of “Off the Wall” called BIP.. Using either a pink ball or tennis ball.I found 1 referance to in in a Yahoo Search.It was a basic off the wall type game where a ball,or multiple balls,were thrown against a wall.Any thrown ball must hit the wall before hitting the ground,a person or object in the field of play and the ball can only be fielded with one hand,no 2 handed catches or pickups.These were the basic rules.If a ball was caught in flight the intial thrower also to run and touch the wall.The inital thrower as a consequence could have the ball(s) thrown directly at them,but this violates the off the wall rule,so in turn the person who directly hit the inital thrower would have to touch up to the wall, thus becoming a target.Any person that caught a ball 2 handed must DROP the ball and run and touch up.Any ball fielded uncleanly (dropped or uncleanly 1 handed pickup off the ground) or hit by the ball in flight, must DROP the ball,if held, and touch up.If it was a multi-ball game, you could only handle 1 ball at a time.There were variations of the touch up rules. for instance a ball that was tossed away or kicked instead of dropped would be assesd a 10 touch where the person had to run up and stand at the wall and touch up (slap the wall alternating right and left hand) 10 times. Thanks.. Z P.S. If you remember this game or lived in Webster Groves in the 80s, drop me a line!
I know this is weak compared to real stickball (beyond weak), but I moved to the Jersey suburbs before developing the eye-hand coordination required to hit a pitched Spaldeen. We used the same standard equipment but the population density didn’t compare to the project and you could rarely get more than 4 guys to play. We hit the ball out of our hand either directly as in “flies up” or throwing it up and letting it bounce a couple of times before getting a “running” start and unwinding on it. We played in the street with home being online with a telephone pole. Everything was automatic (as in our form of stoop ball). Over the wires that crossed the street at the next telephone pole was a homer. Anything on the ground past the infielder was a single as was a liner past the outfielder (one that landed in front of him). Over the outfielder was a double and reaching the next pole but not over the wires was a triple. Great fun it was when most families had one car (if that) and traffic was rare. Jim Mason
My friends and I have been playing stickball for years in the suburb of Cranford, New Jersey. We play on a grass field behind a local elementary school. The school has columns that mark out where the batters end up on base, and a beautiful 100+ year old oak tree about 100 yards in dead center that gathers up the tennis balls for the big home run blast. After testing bat after bat we found a winner. It is the handle of an old shovel sanded down and varnished. It is slightly thicker than a broomstick, so it doesn’t quite get the torque of the thinner bat, but with a solid swing you can’t go wrong. Not much else to add except that it is good to see that people still know how to go out and get a good game together with nothing on the line except for pride…db