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Glossary of Games
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Game Halfball
Game Family Baseball Baseball
Location Cambridge MA
Regions US
Eras Derivative, Post-1900
Invented No

Halfball was a game using half of a rubber ball and imaginary baserunning.  It seems likely to resemble Half-Rubber, which was reportedly played in the US. South and the Philadelphia area.

It is also described as a street game on Wikipedia.

Baby Boomer Jack Hammer (actual name!) describes Half Ball as a subspecies of a street game (known there as stickball) as played in Cambridge MA in the late 1950s.  The ball used in this game was a hollow pink spiky object known as a "pimple ball," which, when stressed by play, tended to split open along its seam.  The players separated the two halves, and the resulting game was called half ball.  A half ball had interesting aerodynamic behaviors.

The bat used in this game was a broom handle sawed off at about 30 inches.  Man-hole covers in the street could serve as bases for actual baserunning.  Jack adds: "Besides manhole covers, sometimes we marked outlines of bases with chalk (rarely available) or with pieces of slate roof tiles. Sometimes we used a board for home or second base. First base and third base could be a tree, a utility pole, or the tail light or head light of parked vehicles." (Email of 12/31/2019.) 

Another subspecies of game , called "Judge," employed imaginary runners.

For these games, oncoming traffic was marked by a common shriek -- "Carrr!!!" --  that cleared the motorway of lads.   


See also Half-Rubber and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halfball. Accessed December 2019.


We asked Protoball friend Mark Schoenberg about any experience with Stick Ball in 1950s Brooklyn.  He recalls that Spaldeens rarely split open, 'though balls known as "Pinkies" sometimes did.  A floppy half-Pinkie could be employed in fungo games, but not in a continuation of a stickball game.  (Email of 1/1/2020).

Protoball friend Neil Seldman adds: 

I never played with, or heard of, games with halfballs. This is against the law in Brooklyn. We did use them however. For throwing up in the air to see the arc. We would also attach the halfball to a good ball. This was fun for a few pitches with extra movement on the ball. We would never think of playing a game with it. In addition to being illegal, it was unkosher.  Email of 1/7/2020)

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Was a pimple ball known to be used regularly in other locations for baserunning-type games?  

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