How to try your hand at half-ball, the old-school Philly street game

May 20, 2019 459

BY: Ximena Conde

Smack in the middle of the annual Italian Market Festival in South Philadelphia Saturday, some 30 men gathered to play half-ball — a game with a local history spanning about 70 years that calls for a broomstick, a three-story building, and half of a squishy ball.

Split into teams of five people, these men comprised the 10th annual John Marzano Half-Ball Tournament, hosted at the Christopher Columbus Charter School parking lot. Marzano was a major league catcher who died after a fall in 2008. Before he played for the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, and Seattle Mariners, Marzano grew up in South Philly playing half-ball. Organizers said the tournament is part-fundraiser (to support youth baseball), part-awareness campaign for the old-school street game.

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