The greatest (stickball) game ever
During a lunchtime kibbitz session, the topic of stickball came up. This memory came to mind.
I was hooked from the first time I saw it. An 8th grader about the size of an NFL guard swung and hit this pink sphere (AKA ball known as a “spauldeen”) in a high arc. It flew over the schoolyard fence, over the street, and landed on the roof of the 5-story apartment house facing “right field.” Transfixed by that feat, it began my obsession with stickball – an obsession so long-lasting that many years later, I took my boys from Florida back to the schoolyard for one last game – and…keep reading.
Stickball was an anybody sport. A broom handle, a piece of chalk, and a “spaldeen” were needed, making the costs next to nothing. That was particularly true when the broom handle somehow “just disappeared” from a garage, and the chalk disappeared from a classroom, The ball cost was the major expense– a quarter. If you really wanted to go whole hog, electrical tape was wound around the “bat” handle. As grandma said, “The whole ball of wax.”
Not familiar with the game? One drew a batter’s box on the school building wall and a plate beneath it on the ground. If two played, there was a pitcher and a batter. With three 3, add an outfielder. And much like baseball, the game was a mental duel between batter and pitcher.