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NY Times article, 10/24/1999

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When Three Sewers Was a Home Run
by Corey Kilgannon, Copyright ©1999 New York Times

Want to know what earned you a double in a Cropsey Avenue stickball game? How about the Hunts Point rules for playing skully, an antiquated game featuring bottle caps and a chalked circle on the sidewalk? is a Web site dedicated to games played on the streets of New York City in the days when kids gripped pinkie balls, not Pokemon cards. The site was created by Michael Greene and Mark Pesner, childhood buddies who spent their summers playing stickball against a supermarket wall in the Rochdale Village neighborhood in South Jamaica, Queens.

As adults, the pair have reminisced about street games, and last year, they began researching a book on the subject. They created their Web site in March to gather information from people who also grew up shooting marbles and playing ringalevio.

But the busy site has grown into a collective memoir for scores of baby boomers who once kicked cans, swatted spaldeens and hopscotched on New York City's streets and sidewalks. So, temporarily, the book idea has been shelved.

WHAT YOU SEE "The site has become this forum for people to reflect on their childhood memories," said Mr. Greene, 45, who designs Web sites and office intranet systems. "People start talking about games and they wind up talking about their lives growing up."

"It's like being a kid again," he said. "I get calls from people actually crying, reading about the old days." Mr. Greene has begun visiting city schools to teach students about the days when curbs were foul lines and three sewers was a home run.

Browsers are urged to submit their own neighborhood rules on the site's bulletin boards, which will then be culled into a comprehensive rule book for each sport and activity.

However, Mr. Greene admits, this task may be impossible. Punch ball rules, for example, vary from Brooklyn to the Bronx to Borough Park.

In addition to athletic activities, including bench ball, punch ball, stoop ball, boxball and curb ball, the site lists explanations of games like kick the can. There are games listed as native to New York and played in an era during which the game officially ended when mom called you for dinner and when you had to be equally skilled at the basket catch and fishing the game ball from the storm drain.

The site also posts results of current stickball and handball tournaments. There are photographic essays on the Spalding pinkie ball and ice cream trucks, and stories of asphalt legends.

Expansion plans include creating an Online Stickball Hall of Fame and a section devoted to games played by recent immigrants.

LINKS Several, to street games organizations and neighborhood sites.

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