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Hanging Out section guide

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Imaginary runners

Kid jumping toward base
Click for bigger picture
This runner is not imaginary!
Lack of real players also affected the way you'd manage baserunning. If you were on base in a punchball game and it was your turn to hit, someone would pinch run for you. In situations where there were too few men to cover the bases, you'd employ phantoms, calling out "Imaginary runner on first." Imaginary runner(s), were cosmically linked, invisibly bound and of the exact same speed as a real runner stationed on another base. In a situation with a imaginary runner on first and a real runner on second, if the fielding player caught a ground ball and stepped on second before the real runner went from second to third, the imaginary runner would be forced out. Questionable force outs of phantom runners was fodder for many a heated street game argument.

Keeping track of the score in these games was an important assignment. Sometimes, one of the guys sitting out would serve as "official scorekeeper," but both teams usually had to keep tabs on what was going on and be willing to vociferously argue their case when a disagreement arose. Explaining the circumstances of the last several runs or outs was critical, for truth and justice would win out if you could prove your point. The most severe arguments usually revolved around judgement calls in close plays made in the heat of competition. While some kids would be known to play unfairly and argue even when they knew they were wrong, most arguments reflected honest disagreements. During these debates passions would flare, fights could arise and the need for cool heads and methods of arbitration were key

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