A Spalding High-Bounce Ball, commonly called a spaldeen, is a small pink rubber ball, somewhat similar to a racquetball, supposedly made from the defective core of a tennis ball without the felt. It was the more expensive and more popular version of the Pensie Pinkie (i.e. made by the Penn tennis ball company). These balls were commonly used in street games in the mid-20th century, such as Chinese handball (a variation on American handball), stoop ball, hit the penny (try to make a penny flip on the sidewalk), box ball, punchball, and stickball (a variation of baseball).


The term most likely arose from a New York or Brooklyn-accented pronunciation of Spalding, the sporting goods company that produced the balls. Across the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey, the ball was referred to as a "high bouncer." It may also have originated with a mis-reading of A. G. Spalding's signature on the ball. The name has become so common that Spalding actually uses it in marketing, and it is now a registered trademark.

History and attraction

Spaldeens were available from 1949 to 1979 to city kids. In urban areas sparse in grass, spaldeens became integral to many street games due to their bounciness and light weight. For reasons unknown, Spalding took the ball off the market in 1979, but it returned in 1999 to much fanfare. They sell for 99 cents to $1.49.

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.


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