What Day Is The Hall Of Fame Football Game 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 from War and so was Gubble Bubble gum. You can also buy Pink Spaldins again, but now for ten cents instead of pre-war nickels. There weren’t many new cars on the streets yet, so there was plenty of room for ball, stickball, association football and all our other games.

We thought that the end of the War meant that all wars were over forever. We did not know that our envoys had agreed to divide Korea along the 38th parallel, that the Soviet Union had placed Kim Il Sung north of the parallel, or that he intended to reunify the peninsula under communist control. Even if we knew, we had no idea that any of this could affect any of us.

In autumn and winter we played hockey and association football. Starting from March, we switched to punchball and stickball. Marble season started the Saturday after Halloween, but the curveball was year-round. The only thing stopping the curveball was too much snow on the ground.

We followed the usual rules: one person entering, one person leaving; nine games; if the ball hits the sidewalk you hit and is caught before it rolls or goes beyond the foul lines, you are out. One jump was single, two were double and so on. If you went back to the wall of the building across the street and the ball didn’t catch before it hit the ground, it was a run. Imaginary base runners advanced one base on a single, two on a double.

The only difference was that instead of bending, we hit the S-shaped eaves that ran three feet above the sidewalk on the 88th Street side of 575 West End. They were perfect for hitting—seven-inch-high white curves that stretched across the wall between the first-floor windows. If you hit the sweet spot on the fairway, the ball will go up to the fairway before it hits the 585 on the other side of the 88th. Hit the top of the sweet spot and you either went up or the ball hit the top of the 585 third floor and was easy on the bounce. The ball hit the concave part S and went into the infield.

Just as the 575 was perfect for hitting, the 585 was perfect for being out on the field. It had crenulations up to the third floor, throwing the ball out in awkward ways that hitters couldn’t predict. Matt –tall, big hands, good jumper, stood with his back to 585 ready to jump or turn, catch the rebound. He was our best defender, but he had a weak arm and couldn’t hit.

The two guys that were the hardest to get out were Blue Book and Esau. The Blue Book hit with a submarine motion and could usually be thrown in alone, unless Nate, who was a soccer goalie in Switzerland and had the fastest hand on the block, was playing down the field.

Esau was our hardest thrower. He fell so close to the wall that sometimes he skinned his hands and feet. The Spaldins were very much alive. Throw one on the sidewalk and it will go up to the third floor. When Esau hit the bottom point of the eaves, Spaldin took ninety steps and missed the edge of the sidewalk by two inches. Nate had to play back in the middle of the street just to keep him single.

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 homer or single runners until they scored fifteen runs and won by the strikeout rule. If Esau had been taller and a better player, he might have been number one in the Blue Book Stoop Ball Hall of Fame. As it was, he just got his shot.

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