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Monday, April 14, 2014

GARAGE-WALL BALL - a cranky re-run

GARAGE-WALL BALL

This cranky re-run is from April 2012

It is the start of baseball season and as usual my thoughts go back to my youth.  Baseball is a great game, but playing it takes lots of space.  It also takes lots of players.

Children find ways to conquer this problem by inventing different forms of the game.  In the city, kids played stoop ball.  The “batter” would throw a tennis ball against the step of their stoop and the fielders, usually only an infielder (before the street) and an outfielder (in the street), would have to catch the ball as it bounced back off the step.


If the infielder fielded it cleanly it was an out.  If the outfielder caught it on the fly it was an out.  If the batter caught the point of the step just right, the ball had a chance to sail over the street for a home run.

Another form of city baseball was punch ball.  In this game the batter punched a spaldeen, an orange rubber ball which was pretty much the insides of a tennis ball, with his fist.  The ball could be punched pretty far by a good batter, but the game did not take up nearly the field size of a game of stickball.  Stickball was played with a spaldeen and an old broom stick.  We never did play stickball in my suburban Long Island neighborhood.


The game we did invent BWB (before whiffle ball*) was one that was totally unique.  I have never met anyone who played even a variation of “Garage-Wall Ball.’

We played in Danny Tully’s back yard.  The Tully’s had a garage made of brick.  In the backyard, a concrete walk ran five feet in front of the rear garage wall.  The pitcher bounced a spaldeen onto the walk, off the garage wall and back towards the batter who was facing the wall, his back to the pitcher.  The batter then hit the ball against the garage wall to ricochet back towards the field.  If the ball went past the pitcher on the ground it was a hit.  If it reached the swing set it was a triple; over the swing set was a homerun.  There were no doubles; we only had first, third, and home bases.  With the garage wall absorbing most of the batter’s power we were able to play on a field no more than sixty feet deep and still be able to take a full swing.

We played “Garage-Wall Ball” for maybe ½ a summer; then we discovered Whiffle Ball.   Whiffle ball was the end of a great game.  A great and unique invention was made extinct before the world ever discovered it.  “Garage-Wall Ball” was an early victim of technology.



*I am assuming I do not need to explain Whiffle ball.  If I am wrong visit this post http://joeh-crankyoldman.blogspot.com/2012/04/from-maybe-its-just-me-great-george.html

 

11 comments:

  1. i had a hard time following the action in my head. :)

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  2. I lived in the country so I didn't play any of these. Didn't know about any of these because I was too busy doing chores. Sounds like tons of fun though.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

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  3. Everyone in my neighborhood played Little League and there were many nearby schools and parks where we could play. I was a decent hitter but I couldn't get around the bases very quickly and spent most of my time in right field looking for four-leaf clovers.

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  4. I had to look up spauldeen, to be sure it wasn't an irish street game. But, good ole Spaulding....
    We had a vacant lot for base ball, or lacking reasonably numbered teams, we played one-a-bounce-move-up. I'm not brave enough to see if that's on the internet.

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  5. I went to a Diamondbacks game yesterday. They lost. Again. They are now 4 and 11, the worst record in the major leagues. The naysayers are already saying "It's going to be a l-o-n-g season."

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  6. We made up special rules for most of the games we played!!

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  7. I wish it were still like that!
    Your comment has had me laughing all day. ;-)

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  8. BaseBrawl was our game of last resort, too little contact. We did play garage soccer though, where the garage wall was 'mid-field' ...

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  9. We had parks nearby so there was no shortage of space to play baseball. Most of us kids played baseball grudgingly....it was a filler until football season started again. (Sorry. Didn't mean to blasphemy your post.)

    S

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  10. Living in the wide-open spaces of Small Town USA, we played Kick-the-Can. We had to wait until the Mr. Softee truck went by, and then when it was dusk, our game commenced in earnest. Kids from five to seventeen joined in. At nine, it was time to go home and wash your feet and go to bed, but if you were lucky, you could stay up long enough to see Carol Burnett take questions from the audience.

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  11. Sounds very similar to what we play Down Under, Backyard Cricket. Always a window broken. Always.

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