How New York kids played baseball in the 1940s

Adult-organized Little League? Uniforms? Post-game snacks supplied by parents?

Not in New York neighborhoods like this one, where baseball-crazy (or stickball?) boys turned empty lots between tenements into playing fields and made rocks, cardboard, and patches of dirt their bases.

This photo goes back to 1940, and judging by the long pants and shirts they’re wearing, I’m guessing it’s early in the season, as it is right now.

[Photo: MCNY by Roy Perry: 80.102.107]

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6 Responses to “How New York kids played baseball in the 1940s”

  1. R g Mook Says:

    More than likely, these kids are playing stickball and not baseball.

  2. Timothy Grier Says:

    I believe the batter is holding a broomstick which is what we used as a bat when we played back in the 1960s. It was called stickball and the ball was usually a soft pensie pinkie. Hard balls were impractical in NYC. On smaller lots we played punchball with no bats and no pitching.

  3. john sweeney Says:

    “Adult-organized Little League? Uniforms? Post-game snacks supplied by parents?’ I’ve walked down by Battery Park City’s piers and was stunned to see parents overseeing informal touch football and soccer games that the kids were playing.  We never would have approved of parents being with us when we played.How will these kids ever learn to govern and interact with their peers on their own?  Sad.

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    My father, who grew up in Brooklyn in the 1940s, had wonderful stories of all the stickball games he and his friends played, so I should have known. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. robert dowling Says:

    regards to all. i have heard stickball and punch ball and baseball etc all mentioned here, but! what about off the point. thats wht we called it. basic tools needed=spaldeen or similar and building to strike ball on. we had perfect building on my block west 69th st bet amsterdm aand west end avenues, w/s of man. nyc. all gone now due to lincoln center and urban renewal frenzi of 50s and 60s. said bldg was post office for zip code10023? basically 1 story but 3 factors facilitated game=very few cars in the day blocking street and of course f/o po good part of time empty for trucks and style of bldg=cement/bricl/large balustrades i think you call thm (corners.eges) to strike ball-long winded but i belive many people unless there in the day reading this or hearing this say WHAT? last side note i thought of=what of sewer covers coming into play/used for stickball and punchball. bob.

  6. Chris F Says:

    my dad used to play stickball in BK and said that nobody could hit as many manhole covers as Frank Torre.

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