Stickball- Ybor City Style

 


 

Stickball is a street game related to baseball usually formed in pick-up games in cities that border the Northeastern seaboard of the United States. The equipment is simple, you need a broom handle, and a rubber ball. Normally the ball will be a spaldeen,, pensie pinkie, high bouncer, or a normal tennis ball.  the rules of the game are governed by the area in which the game will be held. In most of the cities in the north, that might be the center of a street. If that was the case, then the bases would be manhole covers and cars, buildings and even tree lined sidewalks will act as foul poles.
 

But the surrounding did not look like the Bronx or Queens in New York on Friday. Could it have been the smell of fresh baked Cuban bread, or even using the background of an old cigar factory building in Ybor City, just east of downtown Tampa, Florida. This is a region not known for stickball the way they play it in the northern states, or is it?  On Friday afternoon, the city of Tampa shut down a small section of  9th Avenue between Republic de Cuba and 13th street for some fun in the sun,  Southern stickball style.

 
 

 

The event was the the brainchild of Yahoo sports!, who also had a film crew on hand to produce a 5 to 10 minute video that will run on the Yahoo sports website promoting their Fantasy Leagues.  On hand was first baseman Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees, who is the Yahoo Sports cover player for the upcoming fantasy season.  Teixeira, who signed a  8-year, $ 180 million dollar contract with the Bronx Bombers this off season. He stated he played mostly wiffle ball growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, but did not participate in stickball as a kid.

 
When he asked the crowd how many strikes he could have, they yelled in unison “One!”.  the event rules stated that it was to be in a “fungo” style, or that the ball had to bounce at least once before he could swing at the pitch.  So as Teixeira took his place at the makeshift plate, he looked down the cobblestone street and smiled before bouncing the ball once and swung the long thin broomstick handle and crushed the ball out of sight on his first attempt. This sent the partisan crowd into a roar and the ball was ruled a home run.  the teams in this events were labeled “Old School” and “New School” and featured Florida stickball league players from Orlando, and Tampa’s own Lightings squad.

 
                   
 

Teixeria took his turns in the field playing first base, but in this version he did not have the usual mitt to use as the ball was fielded with your hands and sometimes bounces like a racquetball so wild hops and 90 degree turns can happen routinely during the games. Teixeira took a second turn at bat and again crushed the ball for his second hit of the afternoon. I can not wait to see this video up on Yahoo Sports! website, and I look forward to my northern brethren to see how we play stickball in the Dirty South!

 
 
Photo credits: 1-3) http://www.TBO.com ( Scott Iskowitz )

 

12 Comments

That’s fun! I think it’s cool that he came out to play with everyone else. I think we had a version of stickball that they used to play in St. Louis. I remember reading somethig about it a long time ago at the Missouri History Museum.
Melissa
http://clemsongirlabseball.mlblogs.com

I am with Teixeira, I was a wiffle ball guy because my parent were afraid I would break someone’s window in our little slice of suburbia.
It still mattered, and the contests were a bit heated at times. My neighborhood was situated where within 3 blocks you went to three idfferent high schools, so the rivialry things was huge.
Plus, we had a huge ( Northwest Youth Center) city park about a block from the hous where we could even play amongst the baseball fields lights some nights during the summer.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Gee and here I thought I was the only one stirring up old memories today! :)
This is a great story, I love that Tex came out and had fun too. He seems like a really nice guy. I hope they treat him well in NY.
Canuck
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

I have a feeling that the first month in the New York setting will be rough, but after A rod comes back and the offense starts to jump start, he will get more and more cheers.
But that is life in the fishbowl. You are only as good as your last game.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I promise to treat Tex well, no worries! And I love the stickball pix and post, Renegade. It reminds me of a more innocent time. Sigh.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Rays – your blog today reminded me of stories my dad would tell. He grew up in a mill-town here in Massachusetts, the son of immigrants, and he and his friends (and lots of the dads!) would play stick ball in the street! Thanks for the great memories today!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Jane,
You are too good natured to let these people snipe at you. Just know that the people who have met you, and know about you and your adventures have your back.
The sun always shines, and the moon always sets…even in New York and Cali. You will come out of all of this smelling like a rose…………….We know the true you.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I was talking to a friend last night at a local chicken wing establishment who grew up in Boston. Okay I was at Buffalo Wild wings, I have to eat people.
Anyways, he told me they used to use sawed off hockey sticks in stead of broom handles and sometimes it would split the ball in half after a hearty swing.
I can only imagine how far you could hit a ball with a hockey stick…………….

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Stickball is a great game.

http://thewrightway.mlblogs.com/

You know, I once played soccer inside a racquetball court. I was the most intense game in my life. I got whacked so much off the back wall. Every region has their thing, or sports that sets them apart. In Florida, it seems to be frisbee golf that is a wild sports that anyone can play or enjoy.
It is like how I envy the kids in Minnesota sometimes to be able to play hockey on just a frozen lake bed in their neighborhoods, or fish out on the ice in those wild huts.
Life is cool sometimes.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Never got to play actual stick ball myself; my dad used to buy tennis balls for the dog to play fetch with so I would play with those and a tree branch! The dog fetched it and brought it back to me. Apparantley, I had no friends either…ha, ha!!

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

A Philly girl who has not played stickball.
I am impressed and bewildered at the same time.
I used to work Chinatown and used to see some of the biggest tomboys in the city smack a ball into the next street.
Now you are making me believe you might be a King of Prussia girl.
Nothing wrong with that, but no stickball is a sign of suburbia to me. j/k

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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