By Ned Dyer
Ever since it was announced that a stickball tournament will be an integral part of the All Killington Reunion Weekend strangers have been stopping me in the street to ask, “What is stickball?” My answer: it’s just the greatest street game ever invented! It’s as American as hamburgers and Corvettes and is as challenging as lighting a snypo (cigarette) in a hurricane. Just try to find the sweet spot on a broom handle!
Wikipedia defines stickball as “a street game related to baseball, usually formed as a pick-up game played in large cities in the Northeastern United States, especially New York City and Philadelphia. The equipment consists of a broom handle and a rubber ball, typically, pensy pinky, high bouncer or tennis ball.”
Excuse me! Does anyone see Bean Town mentioned in there? Plus, “pensy pinky?” Never happen in Southie, bucko! We played stickball with the all American pimple ball. After a few good raps the ball would deflate (don’t even go there!) and then we’d cut it in half and play half-ball with the pieces.
The pimples gave the pitcher a better grip to throw drops, upshoots, risers, etc. but halfball is a whole other story, plus we had never even seen a tennis ball.
We played stickball in the schoolyard. We never ran bases unless someone broke the bat or it got swiped and we’d have to play knuckleball, then we’d run the bases. When we hit with the broomstick, past the swings was a single, past the stone steps a double, over the school yard fence a triple, off the wall on Burke Street was a homer, and on the roof of 43 Burke a grand slam. But if you made the roof at 43 you to had to go retrieve the ball. If you couldn’t find it you had to go to the Red Store or AI’s and Joe’s and buy a new one for 10 cents. Usually you never came back or you’d have to share your Devil Dog and Nehi with everyone.
I heard that in New York City and Philly they actually have adult stickball leagues with championships and stuff. I guess they take stickball very seriously down there. It’s a game, man, and games are meant to be fun! That’s the way we’re going to do the Stick Ball Tournament on Sunday of the All Killington Reunion Weekend at the Summit Lodge. Beer and hotdogs and a barrel of laughs. Come on up and join the fun, June 24-26, 2016, beginning at high noon ‘til whenever!