This year, Harmony Fest introduces the greatest backyard game in the history of backyard games (in our opinion), Sandlot Stickball (you may call it Wiffle, but it’s not your uncle’s Wiffleball). What is it? Your question is answered…
The game of “stickball” has many forms and origins, from the Choctaw Indians of the Southeast to the streets of Brooklyn. While our stickball game traces its origin back to the broomsticks and rubber balls of the 1900s and to the plastic bats and balls of the boomer generation, we credit all who have embraced the name and its many forms of play.
Sandlot’s version of stickball comes from the backyards of a middle class neighborhood in Minot, North Dakota, where a young boy took yellow paint and an old piece of plywood to create “the board” . This handpainted hunk of wood took on the roles of umpire, catcher, and all three basemen. One board set against a fence or tree or picnic table that called balls, strikes, force outs and rare double plays.
Set this board up in a local park in a game of four on four and it’s magnetic appeal almost guarantees eight on eight within the half hour. Everyone pitches, everyone fields, everyone hits. Ten year old kids mix it up with fifty year old has beens and nobody is disappointed.
All it takes is a creatively designed stadium with ways to hit a homer, a double and a triple and ghost runners take care of the rest. Singles abound if fielders can’t throw and hit the board on a hard ground ball. You can play on a full stomach after a picnic and carry a beverage if you need refreshment in the field, or you can come hungry, ready to prove your stickball skills.
Sandlot stickball allows for high level competition or easygoing fun. It is a match for any occasion: family reunion, end of the season softball party, or a break from an outdoor rock concert.
The beauties of this game are simplicity, lack of argument, and an improbable, amazing ability to make a game fun for the widest variety of people. Kids who never play ball seem to enjoy sandlot stickball as much as the highly skilled baseball players who might be in on the same game. Honestly, you must play it to get it.