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Man, my brother and our friends spent hours each summer playing stickball or wallball.
Little pink ball. Like a tennis ball. Naked. $.10 at the local soda shop. Probably a dollar or two now, if you can find them.
Wallball? Chalk a box on the wall as the strike zone. You get 3 strikes and then you pitch. Best with 3 players. Grounder past the pitcher? A single? Line drive past the pitcher? Double. Hit the ball past the end of the tar - onto the grass behind the school - in the air and it's not caught? Home run.
Curb ball? 2 players. Same sort of rules?
Street stickball? One bounce pitch. Got good tricks as a pitcher, like good top spin or can get the ball to veer left or right on the bounce? Man, you rule as a pitcher.
Where did stickball and wallball and curbball and step or stoopball go? I know. They went to the land where everything else went when video games emerged.
Do your grandkids a favor.
Buy a pink ball, save a few old wooden broom handles in the garage or basement - for the day - and show your grandkis - and your own kids - how old men still got game. I'll be 80 year old guys still can play a good game of stickball. (Maybe wiffleball too.)
Incidentally, in the days of smaller families, stickball and wallball as perfect games . . . if you can get the kids out of the house.
[edited by: Webwork at 3:03 pm (utc) on Mar. 22, 2007]
I go to little league games now and it makes me sad. No fundamentals. Kids that are scared to stand in the batter's box, can't pick up the pitch coming from the pitcher, etc. Forget video killed the radio star, video games are killing youth athletics. My kids didn't even know what 4-square was until I showed them.
Remember playing pickle?
Little pink ball. Like a tennis ball. Naked.
And yep, that's exactly how they started out. Somebody at Spalding had the idea to label rejected tennis ball cores as the "High-Bounce Ball." Have a couple sitting on my desk right now.
Wall ball, huh? We never had a name for it, just stickball in the schoolyard. It was a u-shaped yard. We mostly used only two players. Ground ball past the pitcher was a single; uncaught fly ball off the opposite wall, one bounce a single, two bounces a double, etc. Uncaught fly rebounding off both walls was a home run. The backstop wall probaly had five or six strike zones chalked on it and was not unusual to have that many games going at the same time.
Curb ball, yep; street stickball, of course. Also stoop ball: Player A bounces ball against the stoop. Comes back and caught as a grounder, 5 points; as a 'regular' fly ball, 10 points; as an 'off the point' fly, a 100 points; and off the point of the top step, 500 points. That was the dangerous one 'cause you mostly wound up bouncing the ball against the front door over and over until Mom came out and suggested you go play in traffic.
And box ball, kind of like ping pong only the 'table' was two sidewalk boxes. Box baseball used three boxes, and same as stickball, a bit of English created curves, change-ups, fast balls.
Ace, king, queen? Kind of like multi-player handball against any available wall. I declare war? Tag, you're it when hit with a thrown ball.
Man, ten cents sure went a long way on a summer's day back then. Well, until the ball went down the sewer on its way to Spaldeen heaven.
Hey, thanks for the memories, Jeff. Now if I could only find a schoolyard around here.
Took a walk through the old neighborhood a few years ago. Bright, sunny August afternoon, probably about low 80s temp. No kids in the streets, schoolyards or playgrounds. Sad.
Oh yeah, box ball! How could I forget. Again, the perfect 2 person game. Spectators - next players - allowed. Great game for spinmesiters. (There was a time when spinmaster had a more fun meaning, eh?)
I'm putting a few things on my to do list today. One is to find a spall-deen. No kidding. There was a time when a spalldeen was an essential.
It's time. I've been trying to figure out what to do for excercise in my old age, especially to mix things up. Now, to find me some geezers . . .
I hereby challenge everyone of you jamokes to a game of box ball at the next Pubcon. Somebody remember to bring some chaulk and a few spaldeens in case I forget. I'm getting old, ya know? (And yes, I keep changing the spelling fo spaulding. Who ever had to spell it when we were kids?)
[edited by: Webwork at 4:53 pm (utc) on Mar. 22, 2007]
Lets not forget dodge ball.
You played that with a Spaldeen? Ouch! ;-)
I forgot to throw in punch ball and slap ball. Same game, punch ball was played by boys, slap ball was for girls (ducks Marcia's punch to the head). Chalk either a triangular field in the street with home plate at one curb, first and second base along the opposite curb, or a square field, same idea. Ball was pitched on one bounce using same English as stickball.
I don't remember ever playing any of these games with my daughter.