STICKBALL SEASON IS COMING – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s heading toward the end of April and the Sox, last year’s series winners, are having a hard time. While not in last place, they’ve lost more than often than they’ve won. Many of the teams who were supposed to be leading their division are not doing well.

It’s early yet. If they are still tanking by the end of May, we’ll have to get serious about worrying. Garry would normally be obsessively glued to the television, but when his team isn’t playing well, he’s afraid to watch. He thinks watching is a jinx.

The sportscasters were talking about somebody getting stuck with an error because he couldn’t catch a ball on a bad bounce and how hard it is to catch them when they take an unpredictable bounce.

Spalding Hi-Bounce BallThis got me thinking about stickball.

These professional players get gazillions of dollars to play professional baseball. They have parks with groundskeepers, bases, uniforms, baseballs, and even bats! How would they do without all that fancy stuff, huh?

We didn’t have any of that. No siree. We played that old-time American favorite, stickball. We hit with old broomsticks using a pink rubber Spalding ball — which might or might not be round.

The broomsticks were worn out. If it was any good, your mother was using it, so before you got to play, it had to be pretty beat up.

The ball? Half the time, they weren’t even round anymore. They had lumps of pink rubber which had — long in the past — been balls with bounce.

In hometown stickball, assuming you actually hit whatever was thrown (dubious), you had no way to predict where it would go. All bounces were bad. An old, not-round Spalding rubber ball could go anywhere.

The bases were “the red car over there” and “the big maple tree in front of Bobby’s house.” Everyone agreed the manhole cover was home because it was more or less in the middle of the road. Third base was the drainage grate over the sewer. Watch your feet and DON’T let the ball go down the drain.

It left the game wide open for serious disputes about fair versus foul. The team who was most vigorous in pursuing fairness or foulness got the call, especially since we were our own umpires and decisions were voted on and the bigger team (by numbers or just physically bigger) always won.

If those super highly paid athletes had to play stickball, how well do you think they’d do? I’d like to see those tough major leaguers playing stickball with a worn-out broomstick and an old pink Spalding ball bouncing wildly all over the place.

That would teach them humility in a hurry.

9 thoughts on “STICKBALL SEASON IS COMING – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Our “street baseball” game was played with a plastic wiffle ball bat and wiffle balls (with the holes in them). That way, we didn’t break any windows or damage any cars parked in the street. And the trajectory of those wiffle balls was rather unpredictable.

    Like

    1. Wiffle balls came out after I was a kid. I must have been in Junior High by then. Or maybe they never made it to the streets of New York City where just getting an old mop handle and a pink rubber Spalding ball was enough to get you playing. No one bought the pieces. We didn’t have any money.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This brings back so many memories. Bittersweet memories. I recently wrote a piece about my athletic inepitude. I knew I wasn’t a good athlete. Not even an average athlete. I was BAD–MEDIOCRE. Still, I loved playing stickball, softball, baseball –whatever we had. I loved the bounce of those pink spaulding rubber balls. If you connected, you could really whack the ball a long distance and then watch it bounce all over the street. Yes, we used mop handles. I would use old washclothes taped down with elastic tape to form a bat handle. A few times, My hands got stuck to the tape part and I couldn’t drop the “bat”. So, on one of my rare hits, I would race around the bases with the bat dragging along side of me and all the guys laughing their tushes at me. Not exactly “Wide World Of Sports” material.
        Despite my ineptitude, I would patrol “Deep” right field, praying no one hit the ball to me and day dreaming that I was Duke Snider, patrolling centerfield at Ebbets Field. When the sides changed, I would jog in, swinging my elbows in that regal Duke Snider manner.
        Decades later, on Boston Common, TV News Reporter Garry was still awful — but I had a bigger audience who delighted in my gaffes. in my fantasies, I was still Duke Snider. (One twilight, The Governor of Massachusetts was leading a delegation of dignataries through Boston Common. He stopped to point out the media baseball game, extolling the virtues of the players. He pinpointed me saying, “..That’s Garry Armstrong..a household favorite…he plays with the heart of a lion…so proud of him.”)
        Someday….

        Like

  2. Do kids still play in the street I wonder? All play seems to be organised playdates by parents now. I sympathise with Garry’s jinx theory. I’m the same with cricket. I watch the start of a match but if we’re batting I often have to walk away and not look in case I jinx the batsmen.

    Like

    1. Garry thinks probably not, but I think in the suburbs, probably they still do. Not in cities and in the country, it’s difficult to get enough kids together to play in the street. They need to be organized because they live far apart. I suspect it’s a matter of where you live, too. Some places yes, other places, not so much.

      Liked by 1 person

Talk to me!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.