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Modern-day Spaldeen

A Spalding Hi-Bounce Ball, often called a Spaldeen, is a rubber ball, the size of a tennis ball without the felt. It was the more expensive and more popular version of the Pensie Pinkie (made by the Penn tennis ball company). These balls are commonly used in street games developed in the mid-20th century, such as Chinese handball (a variation on American handball), stoop ball, hit-the-penny (involving trying to make a penny flip on a sidewalk), butts up, box ball, punchball, half-rubber, and stickball (a variation of baseball).


The term arose from a New York City-accented pronunciation of Spalding, the sporting goods company that produced the balls. The name has become so common that Spalding now uses it in marketing, and it is now a registered trademark.[1]

Across the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey, the ball was referred to as a "high bouncer."[citation needed]


Spaldeens were popular with children from the 1930s through to the 1970s. In urban areas sparse in grass, Spaldeens became integral to many street games due to their bounciness and light weight. Citing the declining popularity of stickball,[2] Spalding took the ball off the market in 1979, but it returned in 1999 to much fanfare.[3][4] The retail price in the mid-1960s in Jersey City was 29 cents.

In Popular Culture[edit]

In the documentary New York Street Games, celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg discuss their memories of games they played as children growing up in New York City. Many of these games involved Spaldeens.[5]

Jonathan Lethem's 2003 book The Fortress of Solitude contains many references to the stoop ball game using a Spaldeen on the streets of 1970s Brooklyn.

Don DeLillo's novel Underworld, set in the Bronx in the 1950s, also contains references to the Spaldeen, although the ball is referred to in the lower-case.

In the television series Weeds, Shane's grandfather tells him that, "Real Estate always bounces back. It's like Spaldeens. You know what Spaldeens are? Well, they bounce..." In the Law & Order season 4 episode "Born Bad", Adam Schiff tells a story of getting into a fight with a kids when they were both young, and having his Spaldeen thrown down a sewer. On The West Wing, Toby Ziegler, White House Communications Director and political advisor to the President, uses his Spaldeen for his thinking process and to signal to his deputy, Sam Seaborn, they need to meet.


Since its return in 1999 Spaldeens have been manufactured in a variety of colors in addition to pink. Some of them are black, blue, green, orange, purple, red, and yellow.


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