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The Games: Section guide

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The biggies
• Stickball
• Handball
• Skully (Bottlecaps)

• Ace-King-Queen
• Asses up
• Box Baseball Video!
• Boxball Video!
• Boxball (4-way)
• Fivebox
• Halfball
• Hit the stick
• Stoopball (original)
• Stoopball (bounces)
• Stoopball (curbball)
• Off the wall
• Spaldeen-game discussion

Girl power
• Clap and Rhyme
• Hopscotch
• Jacks
• Jumping rope
• Girl games discussion

Other games
• Baseball cards
• Marbles
• Ringoleavio
• Running around

Tools of the trade
• Spaldeens (and other balls)
• Playgrounds
• Stoops
• Streets
• Walls


Guys playing stickball
Click for bigger picture
Eat your heart out Ken Griffey.
Let's face it, when you talk about streetplay, stickball is the first thing that comes to mind. There are stickball leagues and reunions, webpages, references in poetry and song (like Billy Joel's, "Keeping the Faith" - BJ welcome to the R&R Hall of Fame), movie scenes, folk lore; a whole schtick for the stick - this icon of American urban culture.

With only a broom handle, rubber ball, a bunch of guys and a street, you could engage in a full scale, legit, serious, respectable game similar in feel to classic baseball. And talk about a field. Who could beat manhole covers for bases, cars and walls for foul lines, roofs for bleachers, and the fire escapes - the mezzanine.

Bringing it back down to earth, there were 3 basic forms of Stickball. Fast pitching against a wall, fungo, and bounce pitching, also known as slow pitch or pitching in. Fast pitch (wallball) was usually played by 1 to 3 players per side in a schoolyard or parking lot where you had a clear wall for the backstop and some open space for the field. Fungo and slow pitch were usually played in the street, with anywhere from 3 to 6 players on a side.

In slow pitch, a pitcher stands about 40 to 50 feet away from the hitter, and delivers a one bounce sidearm lob (with some spin) that the hitter tries to clobber. Two strikes for an out. Anything that lands on a roof is an automatic out. Anything that breaks a window or lands on a porch or area that gets you in trouble was also an automatic out. Besides that, regular baseball rules apply (running the bases).

There were some really classy fungo styles. The basic style was to toss the ball up with one hand, hold the bat with the other. The ball would return to the ground just at the point when you had shifted into the proper stance, with two hands on the bat. You'd let it bounce, rise up and then, just as it reached it's apex WHAM! You could do a similar swing as in baseball fungo (where you'd throw the ball up and hit it on the fly as it returns) but the whole cool thing about the rubber ball and the street was the bounce and here it brought additional anticipation to the swing.

There was another really cool way to hit that few in our crew mastered. Instead of throwing the ball into the air, you just kind of rolled it up off the bat, let it bounce and whack it. Hard to clearly explain, harder to do and it definitely required a bit of finesse.

There are some old-time New York Stickball legends like Willie Mays and Joe Pepitone. Word has it that Willie Mays was a 4 sewer man. We've had arguments about this, cause it just doesn't seem possible. In our neighborhood each sewer is a block. 4 sewers=1/5 of a mile - what's that 1,000 feet! Could it be that home counted as the first sewer and then if he hit it over the "third sewer" it was considered 4 sewers. Readers, please help us clear away this cloud of confusion on this critical subject.

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