#558 Getting a stuck ball out of somewhere by using another ball

This is the childhood version of Mr. Fixit.

Whether you’re shooting free throws in the driveway, whipping tennis balls at a wall, or tossing frisbees in the park, it always happens, man. Someone tosses it a bit too high, a bit too wobbly, or a bit too wrong direction, and suddenly your whole game gets lodged in a tight squeeze.

Now, the best way to unjam that ball is of course by using its fellow family members against it. This is the backyard equivalent of putting the hostage taker’s mom on the phone during the tense negotiations.

“Antonio, please. It’s your mother. You don’t have to do this,” the bald, withered tennis ball in the crowded street pleads over the radio to the angry scarred one sitting in the gutter.

“I love you, Antonio.”

Yes, using one ball to rescue another one is a truly great thing. Just make sure you watch out for these potential trip-ups along the way:

1. Double Down. This is when your second ball joins the first ball instead of popping it out. Now you’ve got mom and son in the gutter and you’re running out of things to toss up there. Right now’s the time someone usually heads into the garage to get a ladder, hockey stick, or some long foam swimming pool noodles.

2. It’s Raining Running Shoes. This is the opposite of the double down. In this case the good news is the tennis racquet, garden stones, or running shoes you tossed up there did the job. The bad news is you weren’t ready for both to fall so you took a hard Reebok to the kisser on its way down.

3. The Understudy. The good news is you were able to pop the wedged basketball out from behind the backboard. The bad news is you got your other ball stuck up there. You can almost hear the announcer on the PA system, too. “Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. The role of tightly wedged Spalding will be played by half-deflated volleyball in tonight’s performance.”

4. The Sunset. This is where you take so long to dislodge the football out of the tree that the sun sets and forces you to come back tomorrow. This also happens when you’re the one who got the Frisbee hanging from the tree branches to begin with so your friends just wait till you pass it down and leave you up there.

Now, come on, come on, come on: Let’s not let those dreaded trip-you-ups cool down your buzz. We all know the truth is that another ball generally does the job just fine.

So while you’re out grabbing exercise, running around, and getting those cardio levels burning, just remember when your ball gets lodged and your game hits pause, you can always toss another ball up there to get your search and rescue plan running.

Yes, with a sturdy chin, firm brow, and steely determination, you’ll be just fine out there.

Good luck, driveway warriors.


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Photos from: here, here, and here

35 thoughts on “#558 Getting a stuck ball out of somewhere by using another ball

  1. What a great entry – love the analogy with the hostage taker’s mom! I’ve had many experiences with this sort of thing. I think the one that takes the cake is the day I tried to get a boomerang off of the roof using a tool designed to fish things out of the deep end of the swimming pool. My parents, looking out the living room window at a blue stick bobbing along in midair, were very confused.

  2. The hostage situation made me laugh heartily. I love you more every day. At least every weekday, Neil…

    Please come down, Antonio.

  3. I laughed so much while reading this. “This is the backyard equivalent of putting the hostage taker’s mom on the phone during the tense negotiations.” Really, I love you.

  4. Ah yes, the memories of youth with the basketball jammed between the hoop and the backboard, the boomerang resting on the roof of the carport and the tennis ball in the V formed were the roof of the house meets the chimney. Lot’s of fun trying to dislodge those items.

  5. Reminds me of being a kid – sometimes it took half the nieghborhood throwing things to get that ball down –

  6. I used to love popping out tennis balls that got stuck on wire netting!

    Actually, I still love it. Just haven’t done this for a long time.

  7. A year ago in college, there was a big spring BBQ cookout for seniors. It was AWESOME, lots of people music, everything. My roommates happened to be tossing around a frisbee to entertain themselves.

    Turns out they were better at entertaining the 200 people at the shindig that got to experience the full joy of watching them spend 30 minutes trying to dislodge it from high atop a tree. I was in the crowd, but it was still


  8. Hilarious! I loved it when this happened! You can quickly go from just being another Joe Blow of the playground to being the hero of all those who witnessed.

    The worst is when you were the one who got it stuck. Especially when you are up there trying to get it down and then your friends try throwing things to boot. Ahhhhh childhood!

    1. When you wake up in the morning and the coffee is already brewed.

      When you go to the vending machine and you take the last of your favorite snack.

      When you think you locked the keys in your car and realize that they are in your pocket.

  9. This is my favourite awesome thing so far! Of course, I am that person who has a tree full of stuff. Balls, dog leash, shoes, frisbee — you name it, it’s stuck there.

  10. Amazing stuff Neil… actually gave me some wonderful flashbacks to exactly these types of moments from my childhood, when my whole world was playing and the places and things I used to do it… can remember examples of the “Sunset” situation very well, especially growing up in a small town… the encroachment of dusk, the slow walk home, the delight the next day when by some magic the ball was still there and Dad could help me get it out…

    Your blog is an inspiration and a daily smile. Keep up the great work!

  11. I remember getting a ball stuck up the tree, so we threw the bat, that got stuck, fine throw a stick up there..yip that got stuck too… eventually we got the bat and stick back, but still no ball. I’m sure trees eat them..hehe

  12. Hitting a bowling ball that couldn’t make it all the way down the lane with another bowling ball is satisfying! Great post.

  13. Sometimes I want to comment and suggest that you develop some sort of system where people can favorite certain entries…but then I realize that I would just favorite EVERY SINGLE ONE.


    Keep being awesome!

  14. Slightly off topic but undoubtedly related would be the neighbour’s yard hostage takedown. Ring the bell and summon your most polite register with ‘good afternoon…’ or ‘may I…’ like a secret password to a prestigious club. Once in it’s like Indiana Jones exploring uncharted territories – dodging terriers and garden gnomes to retrieve the goods. For the more daring, hoist your lightest friend over the fence with no plans for their return.

    Very awesome Neil!

  15. Following Gerard Marino’s amazing score in GoW2, GOW3 music looks like a further hit-to-be. The music really rouses you up. The background music differs depending within the game situation and blends perfectly while using overall tone from the game. When you might be alone, the score simmers quietly, and drums up forebodingly, when you might be about to face baddies.

  16. Awesome Thing: When your luggage is first to come out of the baggage carousel at the airport. No worries about whether it’s lost or that someone else accidently grabbed it. No stressful neck stretches as you peer around everyone else doing stressful neck stretches, staring at each piece of luggage, hoping it’s yours. You just mosey on up to the carousel, with a little bit of swagger in your step. Because that, right there, is YOUR suitcase.

  17. Hi,

    I’m from Amsterdam and found your blog while getting my weekly dose of postsecrets.
    I really thought i should make you a compliment for having the creativity to exactly describe these awesome moments that everybody knows. When i scrolled through your blog i really saw some things that i know are there, but i just don’t always recognize them as being that good!

    I think you should keep going and i will certainly check out your blog more often =D (right know i’m going to put on my favorite pair of jeans and make me evening walk (one thing that gives me an awesome feeling ;)), after spending the day in my pyjamas !

  18. Betcha can’t beat this: couple Thanksgivings ago….took kids to play impromptu game of Frisbee Golf at a nearby park….Older son tries to make fun of younger son’s throw, with a wildly exaggerated throw, frisbee gets caught in the tree….looks easy to get….no leaves in the tree, just bare branches…..took my younger son’s shoe and tried to throw it at the frisbee to knock it down…….after 3-4 tosses, it gets stuck too…..we had a lacrosse stick with us……gets stuck too….send older son home to get a hockey stick…yup, gets stuck too….it’s kinda funny….younger son is hopping around, complaining the ground is cold….we call my Oldest Son at home, ask him to bring a basketball….something that can’t get stuck in a barren tree…..Surprise !!!…who’d a thunk !!

    It’s ridiculous…it’s hilarious, it can’t really be happening…it looks like a Garage Sale in the tree !!!

    We must have looked crazy to anyone watching us…..standing around throwing things in the tree, and laughing our heads off…..well except for the youngest son of course !!!

    Some lady happening by, asks us if we need help….how can she help right…..she gets home, and sends her adult son out…..who comes out with a ladder…….we rescued everything……

    What an AWESOME memory for all of us !!!

  19. ….actually same park…..springtime, one of my boys leaves a leather soccer ball there…it has some sentimental value (gift from my sister’s ex-boyfriend, he is no longer in the picture….but I liked the guy….nice ball too !!), but we only realize it hours later…I assume it’s a goner……months later… end of summer we happen to go to the park…..we only go there 2-3 times a year….guess what – the Ball is lying in the grass….still there…probably been played with by lots of kids, but they all chose to leave it there…until we happened to come back !!

    That was like 5-6 years ago….we still have it…..I had forgotten about this story, until I wrote my last entry about the Tree that held a Garage Sale !!! In fact the spot we found the Soccer ball in was near the Greedy Tree !!

    Awesome that nobody took our ball !!

    What a GREAT site this is….It evokes such happy memories !!

  20. As Jerry Lee Lewis would say, “Goodness gracious Great Balls of Fire!”…
    it’s all I got!

  21. My daughter has been trying to do with with frisbees and trees. One frisbee gets stuck in the tree, use another to try to free it, but then it gets stuck. One day she had resorted to using her Barbies to get the frisbees down, but then I ended up with a tree full of Barbies too

  22. How can I get a soccer ball down from a huge tree at school, could I make a invention of do how would I build it so it is easy to carry around and also a long extention for the distance ???

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