May 11, 2011

PINNER OR PIN-ER, Who's got a Tennis Ball?

Bill Matteson
Uptown Chicago History Correspondent

Pinner was a game we played whenever we had the time and a tennis ball. Usually in a school yard or if we could find a building that had a little ledge somewhere between knee and waist high. If we couldn't find any ledge, then a cement step would do. We would have two players on each side. Sometimes three. Baseball rules applied.

We would chalk off an area, from the building outwards to the street; the batter would throw the tennis ball at the ledge, trying to hit it on the edge of the ledge. The ball would fly out, towards the street, the fielder would catch it. One out, three outs and the opposing team was up to bat.

Now if the ball hit the sidewalk 12 feet away from the building, it was an automatic out. At about 18 feet away, if the fielder caught the ball on a fly it was an out. If the ball bounced in that 18 foot area it was a single. At 24 feet it was a double, at 30 a triple, and over 35 a homer. Only if the ball wasn't caught. Any ball caught on a fly was an out.S core was kept. Nine innings were played. There was always a team standing by to play the winners.

The days when no chalk was available we simply pointed out cracks in the sidewalk or street or drew lines in the gravel at the school yard.

Using the tennis ball, we played fast pitch; a broomstick with tape on the handle was used for the bat. I think our generation invented fast pitch. Today in fast pitch they use baseball gloves and regulation bats.

Hand Ball was a game we played on the sidewalk using two sidewalk squares. We stood outside the lines and using our hand like a paddle we hit the ball over the line into the other square and your opponent would return it in like manner. Ping pong rules applied


adgorn said...

Played many a pinner game during the '60's in the Brennemann School yard before school or during recess. We played off the tall wall at the east end that formed the back of Imperial Towers pool area. We also played off front steps of apartment buildings on Buena. The latter required a bit more precision because you had to bounce the ball just right so that it came back rather than careening forward. Hitting right on the edge of a step was the sweet spot. Besides tennis balls we used those red rubber hollow ones. When those black hard rubber Super Balls came out we tried those - we had to extend the game out further! Fun memories!

adgorn said...

Hello, I posted a comment to this. Do you know if it is still waiting to be approved? Just curious. Thanks.

Joanne said...

I saw your comment a few days ago, but then it disappeared. I thought you had deleted it, but it looks like it might have been a Blogger glitch. We don't use comment moderation, so the comments should post immediately.

bill Matteson said...

Only in Chicago
I don't think this game was played any where else,

Just like the 16" windy city soft ball

old guy said...

Lots of fun, we used to play pinner in the Stewart school boys yard between the the middle and side entrances and sometimes a game of pom pom would engulf the whole school yard.
We also played fast pitch and softball behind Brennemann and at Clarendon park.
When we played softball behind Brennemann the biggest thing was to try to hit the ball over the wall and into the Imperial Towers swimming pool. The only problem with that was you ran the risk of not getting your ball back.
Usually we could count on someone to toss it back or we would climb a fence to a garage roof and then over a wall to the pool area.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid we played 7-Up against the wall and 1-2-3 O'Larry. My favorite ball was the pinkish hollow ball. It went the highest and second was the solid rubber ball that was red,yellow and blue. We had such fun playing ball and jumping double dutch. The kids today, unfortunately, are inside with computers. They are truly missing so much.
Cheryl Peck Deters

bill Matteson said...

to old guy Al
Thats exactly were I played most of the time up to 1950
when did you attend Stewart?

old guy said...

Hi Bill
I call myself old guy because my kids like to say "The old guy is talking about the old neighborhood again"
I went to Stewart including the cottages (Stewart branch) from 1956to 1965
Im 60 now so it would have been the
early sixties when I was about 10 or 12 yrs old when I started playing pinner at Stewart.
I spent the first 27 years of my life in uptown and moved out when I got married but I still have family that are fifth generation at the same address.
I really enjoy reading your articles about uptown. They bring back really great memories.
Thanks Al

boazrg said...

I remember playing pinner and "Higher than the ground" when I went to Kozminski School on 54th and Ellis in the fifties. In sixth grade I transferred to another school, but nobody seemed to play pinner there. We played ball in Jackson Park, or we fought we each other, or with kids from other schools. Better cardio workout! (Nowadays you would expelled and sent to anger management!) Lol

artie said...

If someone was rich or lucky, we didn't use a tennis ball for pinner, we used a spaldeen, at least that was us on Broadway near Buena

happytheman said...

thanks for the stroll down memory lane. We played this off our front porch as kids in Long Beach, Ca. Our neighbors taught it to us and they were from Hungary, but via somewhere else i'm sure.


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