Game – Brooklyn, New York

Childhood Game


My dad learned this game in the projects of Brooklyn, NY when he was six years old. A rubber ball, like a Spalding, would be thrown against the stairs of a house, or the stoop. It would hit two of the steps and come back. The player would try to throw it as hard as he or she could so it would fly up and out into the street. If it is caught on the fly, it was out. If it is dropped, it was a single, double, or triple out depending on how far away the drop was.

This game was usually played with about two or three kids. Although he played often, this wasn’t my dad’s favorite game. He mentioned that Stoopball, as well as something called Slapball were variants of baseball.

This game is a classic example of the ingenuity of children when resources are scarce in terms of entertainment. Typical of many child games, almost no equipment is required and the surroundings are used as part of the game.

The Stoopball of my generation was Handball—where a rubber ball is thrown against a garage door or wall. Like Stoopball, there are many creative rules that kept us amused for hours. The similarity of these two games in strategy and execution shows that childhood games can easily spread across a continent and last generations while retaining similar characteristics.  The difference of the environment (stoop of New York vs. garage in California) attests to how these games adapt to the places they are played in.