Do you remember playing ball hockey way back in the day? I mean way back, prior to the invention of the now ubiquitous orange ball hockey ball. Back then, my memory tells me we most often used a tennis ball. Real pucks were for ice, sponge pucks were no good on any surface and sponge balls bounced hopelessly everywhere.
There were several variations of tennis balls that served our purposes though. There was the completely worn-down version that had no hair left on it. This was ideal because it didn’t bounce much and because it was hairless, didn’t stick as much on pavement and concrete as its hairy brethern.
If you didn’t have one of those (and typically you only did if you played ball hockey since these were no good for tennis), you had to settle for a newer tennis ball and if it came with a fair amount of hair still on it, it meant for one of those sub-par hockey experiences. You made do but it wasn’t a whole lot of fun. It was also made worse if the parking lot or driveway you were playing in happened to be wet. In that situation, the hairy tennis ball would get soaked and every so often, someone would have to yell time-out to step on the ball and squeeze the water out of it. You could tell that was required when the ball was skittering along the ground and water would shoot up as it rotated.
If you happened to be playing net when the game involved a wet tennis ball, even worse. It weighed more, and left big, wet, round muddy water marks on your coat, jersey, pants etc. Take one in the candies and it was time for a goalie switch since the wet ball weighed a lot more and thus carried more pain pay-load than a dry version. Many a garage door would bear the dirty, round ball marks of a hairy wet tennis ball if a kid took shots on his wet driveway.