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How to Play Off the Wall

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Off the Wall was one of the favorite games we played in the Assumption School courtyard in Peekskill, New York in the 1970s.

Off the wall is basically the courtyard version of Stoopball and there were two versions.

If you had time (like a full lunch period) then you might organize two teams and play a structured game. In this version, one team would bounce the Spalding or Super Pinky off the wall and the defensive team would field the ball. Sometimes, you would actually run bases. Other times, points would be awarded each time that the ball successfully evaded the fielders. General baseball rules applied; although if you were running bases, then the defensive players could throw the ball at you to get you out. Of course this was always risky, just like in Punchball, because if you missed the runner with the ball, extra bases were basically guaranteed.

Usually though, we played Off the Wall when we didn’t have too much time for a long game. In this version, one person would bounce the ball off the wall and everyone else tried to field it. The defensive player in the field who caught the ball or fielded it successfully off the ground would get a turn to be up. This “all fielders for themselves” version often involved some bumping, falling, diving (yes, even on black top), scurrying and general mayhem — everyone wanted a turn to be up at the wall.

However you played it, Off the Wall was — well, completely off the wall fun!

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