Stickball on the Street
by Pete A. King
Great story in yesterday’s Daily News (9-19-2021) about seven guys in their 70’s who wanted to relive their younger years by going back to Brooklyn to play stickball. Growing up in Sunnyside and St. Alban’s, I could relate easily to their desire to relive their stickball days.
Stickball was a city kids’ game that I played on the streets of Sunnyside. The rules might vary depending on where it was played. On a street – 44th street in my case - the ball was hit on a bounce and the bases were sewers, manholes or parked cars. Played in a school yard, the ball was pitched on a fly with the strike zone marked by a one-size-fits-all box painted or chalk drawn on a building wall and - since there was no running - agreed upon boundaries designated a single, double, triple or home run.
Stickball was entirely different from today’s world of travel team baseball. There were no expensive entrance fees or gloves, helmets and custommade bats that cost many hundreds of dollars. The only equipment needed was a broomstick and a Spalding (“Spaldeen”) rubber ball. Most important, there were absolutely no adults around: not one parent, coach or umpire. We kids had to make it work on our own and had no thought of being consoled if we gave up the game winning homer or struck out with the bases loaded.
My only connection to my stickball past in recent years has been going to the local schoolyard with my grandson Jack who, to humor me, would take a break from his travel team baseball to play stickball with me. Now that Jack has moved to North Carolina, my stickball career is officially over.
All that remains are the memories. Time marches on!
Pete King grew up in Sunnyside on 44th Street, and attended St. Teresa's school in Woodside. Like most kids of the day, he spent many hours playing ball on Sunnyside streets.