UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 7, 2009

AMERICAN NOTES: STREET SPORTS

Halfball

Half Ball - If you lived in and around a major city in the 1950's and 1960's you probably played halfball all day long. In fact you probably thought you invented halfball.

Halfball began when a group of kids were playing a stickball game and the white pimple ball split in half. Having no money for a new ball, the boys started throwing the ball at each other. All of a sudden one of the halfballs began to float toward the batter like a flying saucer. Legend has it that the batter doubled off a triple decker. Halfball was born.

Not only from school walls to triple deckers, from Dorchester to Roslindale, and all the way to the Cape, the game still flourishes today in cities and neighborhoods across the country, and in the memories of those of us who don't swing so hard anymore.

Pitchers try to strike out batters; one strike is an out, but the missed halfball has to be caught by the catcher to make an out. If the catcher misses the pitch, the batter is not out and gets another chance. Obviously, a half of a ball can be made to sail ---upshoot, left-curve, right-curve, drop balls etc.-- in countless directions, and some pitchers get to be extremely good. Batters, meanwhile, attempt to make contact. No baserunning is involved in the game; a grounder past the pitcher is a single. If the pitcher fields it before it gets past his position, it is an out. Fly balls past the pitcher, unless caught for outs, are doubles, and balls hit to a pre-designated distance are home runs.

It has also been said that half ball began because a half ball had a shorter range than a full ball.
.
Tireball

Street Play -
Another popular street game, at least in Philadelphia was "tire ball." Originally it was played with a cut-up balloon bicycle tire, usually about 4 inches in length. But bicycle tires were more often repaired, or their inner tubes were, because they were expensive. So "tire ball" was usually played with cut up rubber garden hoses. Unlike half ball, tire ball couldn't be played against a wall, or the end house in a row, because it was hard, and likely to break windows. It couldn't be played across a street because the hose ball would travel three times the distance of a half ball. So it was usually played lenghwise in a driveway.

Spaldeen

Wikipedia - A Spalding Hi-Bounce Ball, often called a Spaldeen, is a small pink rubber ball, somewhat similar to a racquetball, supposedly made from the defective core of a tennis ball without the felt. It was the more expensive and more popular version of the Pensie Pinkie (made by the Penn tennis ball company). These balls are commonly used in street games developed in the mid-20th century, such as Chinese handball (a variation on American handball), stoop ball, hit-the-penny (involving trying to make a penny flip on a sidewalk), box ball, punchball, and stickball (a variation of baseball). Contents [hide]

The term most likely arose from a New York City-accented pronunciation of Spalding, the sporting goods company that produced the balls. Across the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey, the ball was referred to as a "high bouncer." It may also have originated with a misreading of A. G. Spalding's signature on the ball. The name has become so common that Spalding now uses it in marketing, and it is now a registered trademark.

Spaldeens were available from 1949 to 1979 to city kids. In urban areas sparse in grass, Spaldeens became integral to many street games due to their bounciness and light weight. Citing the declining popularity of stickball, Spalding took the ball off the market in 1979, but it returned in 1999 to much fanfare. . . Since its return in 1999 Spaldeens have been manufactured in a variety of other colors other than pink. Some of them are black, blue, green, orange, purple, red, and yellow.

Handball

NY Times - Handball is ubiquitous throughout the city. Played by everyone from preteens to aging masters, it's like open-air racketball, but with no racket, just one wall and the symphony of the New York streets disrupting your concentration. . . with around 2,000 handball courts all over the city.

Stickball

NY Times - Like baseball but played in the street, with a stick or broom handle for a bat and fire hydrants, cars or manhole covers serving as bases, stickball thrived in a New York where automobiles had not yet come to dominate the asphalt. Today, the game is less the province of idle kids and more the pastime of adults who organize into leagues. . . With the sport mostly restricted to league play, pick-up games are hard to come by

2 Comments:

Blogger Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Susan

http://onlinemariogames.net

August 28, 2009 3:18 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Susan

http://onlinemariogames.net

August 28, 2009 3:19 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home