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[A] This is a variation of baseball in which a rubber ball is punched, and not hit with a bat, to start a play. One set of modern rules is at http://www.spaldeen.com/punchball.html. Johnson (1910) lists Punch Ball under “Baseball games.”
[B] An big-city form of this game is recalled by Gregory Christiano as being played in The Bronx in the 1950s:
"Played with a 'spaldeen' and a fist in the middle of the street. Similar to a stickball game except that there was no pitching-in or use of a stick. The "batter" would throw the ball in the air and punch it toward the fielders, and running the bases (which were usually car door handles on parked cars), tires or sewers. It was scored like a regular baseball game."
[C -- Brooklyn] Regular baseball rules. Batter uses fist to hit. One swing. Miss ball and you are out. No bunting, no stealing. Sometimes when there were not enough players for full teams you had to shorten the field by bringing in the foul lines so that you virtually played on a square, with the foul lines each 90 degrees from first and third bases. You had to do this because with a fist a good player could place a line drive anywhere on the field. So there were 9 or 10 players on the field. No pitcher because the batter held the ball and there was no bunting. Catcher is the most important position as this is a hitter's game. Scores are 20-30 runs a team. Many plays at the plate. Most outs are made on the bases. Very action-packed game. (Communication from Neil Selden and Mark Schoenberg on Brooklyn games.)
[D] A brief 4/30/1989 letter to the New York Times argued that stickball was a "sissyfied" sport in comparison to punchball. "We played with six or seven players, nickel a player. We had one-sewer homers and two-sewer homers. The game was so popular in Brooklyn that a daily newspaper, The Graphic, sponsored a punchball tournament, pitting one street against another." The players used a spaldeen, and chalked in foul lines and first and third bases.
G. E. Johnson, What to Do at Recess (Ginn, Boston, 1910), page 32.
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