|Fig. 1. Every city should have a stickball Hall-of-Fame. Only New York does.|
|The Simca keeps on ticking.|
According to "The New York Times," the street was renamed back in 2005 in commemoration of the game. Mayor Bloomberg was on hand, as was ex-Yankee, Brooklyn-born Joe Pepitone.
|Pepitone, a three-time All-Star, was no Willie Mays.|
I suppose stickball was always a city game. You needed only a broomstick and a "Spaldeen," which could be had--depending on when you grew up--for 15-cents, or a quarter or half-a-dollar. Manhole covers or sewer grates served as bases. No other equipment was necessary.
I'm not sure if stickball is played by kids anymore. I don't see rectangular outlines painted on brick walls like I did when I was a kid, and I suppose the game has been hurt by the rise of video games and the declining popularity of baseball, as well as today's absolute mania for basketball.
|From back to front, Jack Sands in the outfield, Chris Palatucci pitching and me at bat.|
Back in the day, of course, when the Polo Grounds still presided over Coogan's Bluff in upper Manhattan, Willie Mays, the great Willie Mays might take a swing or two with the denizens of West 155th Street. I can't quite imagine A-Rod or even Jeter doing the same today, unless they were sure it were either sponsored by Nike or would go viral on YouTube.
|Mr. Willie Mays back in the day.|
Half-ball was the same as stickball except you cut the ball in half with a knife and then taped it closed. That reduced the chances of hitting one up on a roof or breaking a window with a line-drive. In those impecunious times it also let you use a Spaldeen after it should have been, by rights, cosigned to the ash heap of history.
109th Street was barricaded off when I drove by this morning and a couple of games were going on. I craned my head to catch a little action but saw nothing.
Of course, I could not play. Not only am I nearly as ancient as the game itself, I am still suffering from a torn right rotator cuff, which I am holding off repairing until I am no longer working for a day-rate.
Further, what with the ongoing crush of uptown traffic and the general automotive mayhem of Manhattan I could neither stop nor park the car and watch. And then, of course, I had more important things to do.
When do we not?