One of my boyhood friends from our old South St. Louis neighborhood sent this link, bringing back many fond memories of baseball’s impending return.
St. Louis has long been recognized as one of, if not the best baseball city in America. Not because the Redbirds have won 10 World Series titles, second only to the 27 won by the mighty N.Y. Yankees. Nor because the Redbird fans are knowledgeable, and root, root, root for the home team in good times as well as bad. No, St. Louis gained its reputation over many decades as the quintessential baseball town because its fans appreciated the game at a level that allowed them to cheer even for the good plays by the opposing teams, or former Cardinals now returned in a visiting team’s uniform.
As a result, we St. Louis kids grew up playing many variations on the ball-and-bat theme from early spring to late in October. While I’m sure other cities had their distinctive baseball-influenced games, too, we seemed to have a game for any field of play and for every number of players available. Games with such evocative names as stepball, stickball, fuzzbull, wall-ball, wiffle ball, Indian Ball, cork ball, run ups, rounders; the list seemed to go on forever.
If you were on your own, you’d play step ball or wall-ball. Two kids would, of course, play catch. With three you could play run-ups, simulating getting picked off first and trying to not get tagged out.
Once you rounded up three or four friends you could start batting games like wiffle ball, cork ball, fuzz ball (played with a de-frocked tennis ball), as well as a fielding game that originated in St. Louis called Indian Ball. (more…)