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Stoopball (Original)
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Stoopball (original)

Boy plays stoopball
Click for bigger picture
He's tuning up for the next stoopball match.
Stoopball is definitely one the most fondly remembered street games, particularly the "original version." My pop, who just turned 75 recalls hanging out on his porch in Bensonheurst, and playing it when he was about 8 years old.

We usually had two or three guys in a game (no teams). If no one was around, it was a fun game to play by yourself. The rules were simple, you'd stand about 10 - 15 feet in front of the stoop and throw the ball at it. The ball would return and you had to catch it on one bounce or on a fly to score points. If you didn't catch it your turn was over You'd get 5 points if you caught it on one bounce, 10 points if you caught it on a fly and 100 points if you caught a pointer. Catching pointers was usually how you'd win.

Games were played to an arbitrary total, such as 1,000 points, which was agreed to at the start. On some turns you'd be out after one throw, on others you might get on a roll tossing the ball 15 - 20 times before it angled away. Since most throws were 5 or 10s, even a couple of dozen might only be worth 150 points. Ah, but if you hit the pointer (so named because it meant the ball hit the point of the step), then you could score big.

Catching pointers was the exciting part. By hitting the edge of the step, the ball retained most of its original force. Pointers would either shoot right back like a bullet, or sail over your head. Catch one on a fly - 100 points, catch it on one bounce 5 points. Anything else, next guy's turn.


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