I’ve been playing Wall-Ball for about 10 years now, I remember when I was little I’d walk by the local schoolyard and see older guy playing this baseball game against the wall. Since then a lot of things have changed. I remember we didn’t have a pitching mound so some kids would take wood chips and cover an area on the grass, eventually it killed all the grass in that area and the Local School board paved it over, so now we have a little strip that resembles a mound. Every Sunday here in Toronto the school is packed with 2-3 games going on side by side. We all use tennis ball and normal baseball bats and play 2 outs and we even have Pilons in the outfield marking the foul lines. We got the Double play rule where if you ground out to the pitcher and theres someone on base ( ghost runner ofcourse)the pitcher would pick up the ball and try to hit the box wherever he was standing and the trick was to get it past the hitter who was trying to block it with the bunt technique. Wall ball or Box baseball has come a long way for us and I hope it continues.
Growing up in South Philly, the pimple ball was indispensible. You couldn’t play the street games without it: Stickball (aka Fastball), Halfball, Hit the Penny, Chink, Wallball, Wireball, Babies in the Air. I find it difficult to explain to my kids just what a pimple ball was. I wish I had saved one to show them. The thing I found most interesting about it was when you pressed your index finger hard on the top of the ball and throw it hard releasing it so that it’s trajectory was toward the ground, it would almost float as it sped toward it’s target. I’ve seen guys throw them almost the length of a city block where the ball made the entire trip 6 inches off the ground.
Hello there, At school, there is an alternative sports assembly , and a bunch of my friends and I are starting a wall ball team for our school. I know it sounds kind of corny but it would be a lot of fun. The only problem that we are facing is all of us have different little fragments about how to play the game but not the whole rules. So if anyone could help me out here that would be great. The only thing I know is that Wall ball is played with a hollow rubber ball and is bounced against the wall with different tecniques until one of the two players breaks the bouncing rythm. So if you could e-mail me, I would greatly appreciate it. My address is lindsayrae04 [at] hotmail [dot] com
As a Canadian who grew up in Toronto, I’ve always wondered about references to “stickball” that I’d see in stories about Brooklyn and the Bronx or mentions in stories about ballplayers, like Willie Mays, who still liked to play in the streets when they were major leaguers. The Canadian equivalent to stickball is what we in Toronto, back in the 5O!s called ball hockey–now the kids say “road hockey” or street hockey–especially in Toronto where the winters aren’t long enough or cold enough to provide many outdoor rinks for playing “real” hockey on ice. In ball hockey, you’d wear winter boots and hockey gloves and no other pieces of protective equipment. We’d usually have a ball glove, preferably a first baseman’s mitt, for the goalie and, around Christmas time, probably some kid would bet a proper goalie stick. When Toronto started building “outdoor artificial” ice rinks, that is open air rinks with a concrete floor and built in ice-making equipment, that only provided more ice time for organized league hockey. Ball hockey, like stickball, is “unorganized” by adults and the kids make up the rules on their own. Just as I’ve read in the wonderful stories on this site, neighbours would often complain about the noise and swearing that went on as we played in the street with homemade goals, nailed together from wooden slats and potato sacks, or scraped up frozen snow heaped into a pile to make goalposts. Sometimes, a disgrunted neighbour would call the police, and the cry of “cops” would ring in the cold air as we hustled our goalnets into driveways between the houses and hurled our hockey sticks and gloves under parked cars. Game action was often interrupted by the call of “car” as we’d reluctantly pause and allow just enough space for motororists to make their way through, usually to the accompaniement of curses and admonitions to “Get a move on, we got a game goin’ here fer Chrissakes!” In the summertime, we’d play softball at night in school playgrouds and touch football as the summer changed to fall, something that happens in September up here. But on hot summer afternoons, we played “wall ball” which was just like some of the games described by stickball players. We’d mark a strike zone on one side of a u-shaped section of our school where all the windows were protected by a heavy metal mesh. On the other side of the “u” there were different coloured bricks at different heights, and these would demarcate a single, at the lowest part of the wall, to home run, at the highest section under the roof. We used regular baseball or softball bats and if you knocked the tennis ball (no Spaldeens in Canada at that time) on the roof, it was an out. The school janitor would go up there about once a week and throw the balls back down to us. We also played a game called “zones,” on the regular baseball diamond in our schoolyard. If we didn’t have enough players for a full game, we’d either choose up teams of two or three, or simply rotate and keep individual scores. In zones, we’d draw an imaginary line from the plate through the pitcher’s box to a point against the chainlink fence around the outfield. Then we’d throw our jackets or anything that might be lying around on the ground along that line to mark the single, double, triple zones and over-the-fence homerun. < I think for us though, the ball hockey games were the best equivalent of your stickball. Make up the rules as you play, usually with a “bald” tennis ball, better to stickhandle with if frozen, on a street slick with frozen snow, and no adult supervision. From time to time, we’d hook up with kids from another street for games that got so intense we’d usually end up playing home and home, best four-out-of-seven, with frequent changes of venue to other streets, dragging the goalnets behind us, to keep one step ahead of the cops. For these big games, some kid would usually show up with a pair of old goalie pads. Occasionally, in the summer time we’d play on the old-fashioned roller skates–not the in-line fancy skates of today–but the kind with rollers that had adjustable fittings to slip on over street shoes. Often, these were borrowed from girls on the street because street roller-skating was more popular with girls in those days. But these games were infrequent, because hockey is really a cold weather sport and it would become unbearably hot to play ball hockey in the summer time. We also played, girls included, a street ball game, like baseball, that we called “rounders.” The batter would bounce a tennis ball and hit it with the palm of his/her hand, and the bases were marked out as described by many of your writers about stickball. As I watched my own fully-equipped sons playing Little League ball or “organized” hockey with coaches and parents yelling, “stay on your wing, backcheck, take the body,etc” I realized that kids now don’t get many chances to enjoy the unregulated play we did when we played ball hockey or “shinny”–on skates on outdoor rinks and ponds–and that a lot of the fun came from settling arguments among ourselves about whether a goal was scored or not, or whether the ball was fair or foul. I guess inner city schoolyard basketball is the last remnant of that kind of free play, without parents having to drive kids for 7AM practice at a rink half way across the city. Free play–ball hockey or touch football or “wall ball” or “zones”–we had it all. Although I played organized hockey and football right through my university days, my best memories and feelings about sports remain those “unorganized” games on streets and schoolyards. Long live stickball and its counterparts. (I guess in most of the world, a soccer ball is all that kids need to have similar experiences.) Love …
Spaldeens were used for Stoop,Stick and Wall Ball. In the area known as Red Hook south Brooklyn. There was a street game that most called “punch ball” We chose to call it fist ball, since you didn’t hit it with a punch but rather your closed fist or in some instances an open hand, to slap it or slice it. The ball was hit with the exposed flat joints and heel of the hand The prefered ball for this was known as a “Pimple ball”, it was white and a little softer than a Spaldeen. The ball had dots in between lines that ran around the ball. Some had a star at the top and bottom of the ball. There was no room on our block to play stick ball, with cars parked on either side and there were only a few stores in the area that sold it. One was Scamadellas, on Court and Baltic Streets. 15 cents each.
Do you guys remember playin’ wallball & roofball as well as punchball & stoopball? I lived in Yonkers and for wallball we would draw two foul lines and a short & long limit line. You would bounce the spaldeen off the wall & it had to bounce past the short line or drop in front of the long limit line. If it bounced short, too long or foul it was an out. If your opponent cought it on a fly it was an out, but if he didn’t catch it, you got a base per bounce til he got it. Ex. 2-bounces a double & 3 a triple!
What neighborhood in Brooklyn were you from? We’ve been finding that Stickball in Manhattan was mainly slow pitch, in the Bronx fungo (hitting by yourself). IN Queens – fastpitch, wall ball – or what was jsut called stickball was played mainly as you describe. In fact, we’ve just talked to someone who has a L.I City Queens league based on this. Brooklyn seems to have had a combination.
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
In South Philly our ball of choice was a “pimple ball”, white or rather greyish rubber with 1/8″ dimples with bands running latitudily and stars embossed on both poles. It was used in many games, stickball, wallball, wireball, boxball, miniature,ledgies, points, dinky and the ultimate and most sublime of the street games, Halfball. In further postings I will detail the sublimities of this most enjoyable game.