I wanted to post about my newest obsession, corkball
Corkball is a St. Louis variation of the game of stickball that has been around since the 1890s. Legend has it that corkball was born at Mueller's, a boardinghouse and saloon at Grand Boulevard and Greer
Avenue in North St. Louis. The year was 1890, and the story is that some members of the St. Louis Browns — an American Association team that a few years later would be rechristened the Cardinals in the National League — were sitting on the porch at Mueller's polishing off a keg of brew. Chris Von der Ahe, a colorful saloonkeeper who called himself "Der Poss Bresident," owned the team, which featured a player who would go on to become a baseball legend. He was Charley Comiskey, founder of the Chicago White Sox.
Comiskey might have been there the night that one of the players
took the bung out of the keg, carved it into the shape of a ball, while another Brownie found a broom handle for a bat. They set the ground rules: One would be a pitcher, the other a catcher, with the remaining three playing the outfield. Like Indian ball, there was no running.
the game evolved into organized leagues and manufactured equipment. For a time, the corkballs — like mini baseballs, slightly larger than golf balls — and slender bats used in the game were made by Rawlings Sporting Goods. Rawlings, based in St. Louis, dropped the line years ago, and now Markwort Sporting Goods on Forest Park Boulevard carries on the tradition. The game became so popular that leagues sprouted up at taverns, where cages
were erected, but eventually, most of the play moved to city or county parks.
My dad played corkball. I remember there being a corkball bat and ball at home when I was growing up, but the only time I remember it being played was at our annual Kopp family reunions (where we also played a variation called bottle caps... basically the same thing, but instead of corkballs you used bottle caps!).
Leagues such as Gateway Corkball (est. 1929), South St. Louis (1936), Sportsman's (1957), and Santa Maria or Lemay Corkball still exist and even participate in an annual "World Series of Corkball" called the Don Young Corkball Tournament at Jefferson Barracks Park each August.
has faded, but it's still played at several St. Louis-area parks. I head up my own "River City Corkball Club" and we play on Wednesday evenings at Tower Grove Park.
I also run a website for the sport at PlayCorkball.com
that contains all sorts of articles & information (including rules, field diagrams, etc.). Please check it out and join us if you're interested in starting a club or league in your town! Click this link
to buy some corkball equipment online.