Stoopball

Stoopball is a pickup neighborhood game played by throwing a ball against the stairs of a residential dwelling. The game is also known as ‘Off the Point.’

Historically, it rose to popularity in Brooklyn and other inner cities after WWII. The rules are based loosely on baseball. The object of the game is to score the most runs in 9 innings. One player is the ‘batter’ and the other players the ‘fielders.’

The batter stands immediately in front of the stairs while the fielders stand behind the batter across the sidewalk on to the street. The ‘batter’ throws a pink rubber ball (either a ‘spaldeen’ or ‘pensie pinkie’) at the stoop. The ball flies back towards the fielders, who are also facing the stoop. The objective is to hit the ball at such an angle and velocity so that it bounces back in the air as far as possible over the heads of the fielders, therefore registering bigger hits. The number of bases registered by a hit is determined by the distance traveled by the ball before it is fielded, unless the ball is caught on the fly resulting in an out.

In addition to the ‘baseball rules’ or ‘bounces’ variation described above, there is also the ‘curbball’ version, often played in parks. In the original version of stoop ball, only one player at a time throws and catches. In St. Louis, Missouri, this game was known as ‘stepball,’ where it was played from at least the 1930 to the 1980s. A Portable Stoopball Striker has been patented. Stoopball has been played and enjoyed by a number of prominent persons. Sandy Koufax played stoop ball before beginning his Hall of Fame baseball career, and announcer Marv Albert missed the city game so much that he had a stoop constructed at his house in the suburbs. Billy Joel played stoop ball on suburban streets. The Stoopball League of America holds its annual world championships every July in Clinton, Wisconsin.

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