Monday, February 7, 2011

Off The Point

Yesterday, it warmed up to the point if you were a kid and playing in the street the coat definitely would have come off. Because of the five week snow cover going back to the holidays, spring games would have popped up in 1969. The best and easiest to start spring game was Off The Point. All you needed was a Spauldeen, a wall, and two players (ideally four players or up to six).

In the picture below taken by Jan Chapman in 1969, Freddy Muller is about to whack the ball off the point of 400 East 83rd Street (the lip/edge at the bottom of the wall). Two odd things about this photograph: Freddy was right handed, but he's using his left. Probably someone dared him to play with his left hand, or sometimes for a goof we all would play a whole game of Off The Point or Whiffle Ball with our opposite hand. Freddy was close to be ambidextrous, he excelled when we switched hands.

The second odd thing about this photo is the game is being played south to north. We usually used the point on the north side of the street making the south side building the outfield wall. We probably had a string of bad luck with Mr. Moylan. He lived on the second floor of 400 and if he was home when we played Off The Point, he'd open all four of his windows facing the game and wait. Inevitably, someone would sail a high flying shot over the outfielder's head high enough to reach the second floor then it was only a matter of luck whether it hit the wall or dove through the window, gone forever. He never gave a ball back. Spauldeens were expensive, each one lost was painful to the pocket. We thought Mr. Moylan was a sourpuss, looking back, we tortured him and deserved more than open windows.

We usually had a large radio/cassette player positioned on top of a car to entertain us while we played. In 1969, this song was still in heavy rotation, we played it loud.

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