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The strike zone is a box on the wall

Boy at bat playing fast-pitch stickball Click for bigger picture
Is that an American League strike zone?
There are several kinds of stickball. Stickball with fast pitching (sometimes called wallball), requires a good wall and a field at least the size of a handball court. Hits are determined by the distance of the shot. Balls not caught that go through the infield are singles; over a predetermined point, a double; another point, a triple; over the fence, roof, or whatever boundary of the field, a home run.

The most distinguishing feature of the field is the box drawn on the wall which defines the strike zone. On a really popular field it might be painted. Usually, it's drawn with chalk before playing. Unlike baseball where the strike zone is relative to the batter's height, the stickball strike zone is fixed. Since bigger kids have more influence in making rules, they usually make the zones to fit their size. Younger kids either get used to swinging at neck-high pitches, or to getting striked-out.

One of the coolest things about stickball is that everyone has a chance to pitch. Unlike baseball (even in a pickup game with fewer than 9 per side), if you're a lousy pitcher, you rarely get much of a chance to pitch. There's no just way your pals will stand around and let you single handedly lose the game for them. However, in fast-pitch stickball, there might be 3 or fewer guys per team and you often get a chance to pitch. In fact, many games are just one-on-one, which means you must pitch. If no one is around, pitching pratice is easy: throwing the ball against the wall--the catcher, umpire, and backstop are built-in!

Pitching with a rubber ball is great. You need not worry too much about hitting the batter, because no one can really get hurt--feel free to rear back and do your best Bob Gibson imitation. Even better is the fact that with a little work, you can put all kinds of spins and curves on the ball. Lots of at-bats per player, lots of chances to pitch, to whack the ball over the roof... what a blast! Pint size players, major league fun.


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