Do Smaller Hands Make It Harder To Catch A Football The Way Things Used to Be – Stoop Ball – Rules of the Game

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The Way Things Used to Be – Stoop Ball – Rules of the Game

Lucky Strike Green was home to War and also Double Bubble Gum. You can also buy pink spaldin again, but now for ten cents instead of the pre-war nickel. There were no new cars on the road yet, so there was still plenty of room for punch ball, stickball, association football and all our other games.

We thought that when the war was over, all wars were over forever. We did not know that our envoys had agreed to divide Korea along the 38th parallel, that the Soviets had put Kim Il-sung in charge north of the parallel, or that they intended to reunify the peninsula under Communist control. Even if we knew, we would never have imagined that any of these things could affect any of us.

In the fall and winter we played roller hockey and association football. From March we switched to punch ball and stickball. Marble season started the Saturday after Halloween, but stoop ball was year-round. The only thing that stopped the stoop ball was too much snow on the ground.

We followed the usual rules: one infielder, one outfielder; nine inning games; If the ball hits the pavement you hit, is caught before it bounces, or goes outside the foul line, you are out. One bounce single, two doubles, etc. If you hit the wall of a building down the street while flying and the ball wasn’t caught before it hit the ground, it was a home run. Imaginary base runners put one on a single, two on a double.

The only difference was that, instead of a stoop, we hit the S-shaped cornices three feet above the sidewalk on the 88th Street side wall of 575 West End Avenue. It was right to kill–a white seven-inch-tall S-curve that jutted out from the face of the wall between the ground-floor windows. If you hit the sweet spot on the convex part of the cornice, the ball went over the clothesline too high to catch before making 585 in the 88th over. Hit above the sweet spot and you either pop up or the ball hits the third floor of the 585 and bounces making it easier to catch. Hit the concave of the S and the ball went to the infield.

Just as the 575 was perfect for hitting, the 585 was perfect in the outfield. It had crenulations up to the third floor which caused the ball to bounce in a way that outfielders could not predict. Matt –Tall, big hands, good jumper, ready to jump up to 585 with his back, or turn around and grab a rebound. He was our best outfielder, but his arm was weak and he couldn’t hit.

The two hardest people to get out were Blue Book and Esau. The Blue Book hit with submarine speed and as long as Switzerland had a soccer goalie and a net with the fastest hand on the block, he could land a single without playing infield.

Esau was our hardest thrower. He crashed straight down so close to the wall that it sometimes skinned his knuckles. The Spaldins were very lively. Bounce one on the sidewalk and it will go to the third floor. When Esau hit the point at the bottom of the cornice, Spaldin went off at ninety and stepped two inches over the edge of the sidewalk. Nate had to play down the middle of the fairway just to hold singles.

When Blue Book and Esau were on the same team, they would load the bases with singles the first few times they got up, then either go for homers or single runners until they got fifteen runs ahead and won by the slaughter rule. If Esau had been taller and a better outfielder, he probably would have been number one in the Blue Book Stoop Ball Hall of Fame. As it happened, it did so only on his batting.

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