catstick n chiefly NEast old-fash
1770 in 1965 Adams Legal Papers 3.112 Boston MA, Monk had a Catstick in his Hand. 1824 LA Gaz. (New Orleans) 19 Aug /3, My younger brother, Dick, lost one day his colly ball, and cat-stick. 1848 Bartlett Americanisms 67 RI,Catstick. A bat or cudgel used by boys in a game at ball. . . I have never heard the word except in Rhode Island. 1883 Wide Awake 16.218 eMA, In my school twelve fellows had one harmonicum; not a new one. . . Jumper swapped it with Frank May for a catstick. 1898 NY Eve. Jrl. (NY) 27 June 3/3, Some days ago [Joshua] Grimes and some other boys were playing “cat.” . . “What’s that?” cried Joshua, dropping his cat stick and running over to where the younger lad stood.1906 Lovett Old Boston Boys 46, Not content with small soft wood cats, two or three inches in length, we made them of a section of broom handle and about six or eight inches long, using the remainder of the handle for the cat-stick.1908 Eve. Jrl. (Wilmington DE) 28 Aug 5/3, Next week will be the last of the vacation season so far as the public schools are concerned, and hundreds of children will drop their “cat” sticks and their baseball mits [sic] and bats to once again tackle the problems that are forever being put against the young person. 2010 Boland One Day 192 NYC, He had only one eye. The story is that he was watching a stickball game in one of the streets and a kid swung at a pitch and his catstick slid out of his hands and hit the coach square in the eye.
2 A small stick, usually one intended for burning.
1824 Statesman (NY NY) 30 Nov /6, A grand sawing match has just concluded under our window, between . . two coloured wood-sawyers, of enterprize, spirit, and brawny arms; one a yellow southerner, and the other an ebony Yorker. They “done” the two loads . . in exactly 14 minutes by Shrewsbury clock, the yellow boy coming out half a cat stick ahead. 1832 Daily Eve. Transcript (Boston MA) 7 Jan 2/1, He “dropt into” the cellar to survey his wood-pile; . . he found that the faithful fellow had thrown down the large logs whole, sprinkled them with sawed cat-sticks. 1848 Daily Natl. Intelligencer (DC) [23 Nov 2]/4, Mr. Bartlett defines Cat-stick a bat or cudgel, used by boys in a game at ball. . . The word has a more general use: it is Yankee for any un-split stick of wood with the bark on, which is small enough to be grasped in the hand. 1859 (1968) Bartlett Americanisms 72, Catstick. . . In Pennsylvania, Maryland, and further south, the term is applied to small wood for burning. 1863 Norton Allerton 309 wNY, The boys are throwing out a load of “cat-sticks,” which they have just driven up from the woods. 1867 Lowell Biglow lviii MA,Cat-stick: a small stick.1902 Earle Old Time Gardens 453 cMA, I knew, as did Dr. Holmes and Hosea Biglow, and every good New Englander, that “cat-sticks” were poor spindling sticks, either growing or in a load of cut wood. I heard a country parson say as he regarded ruefully a gift of a sled load of firewood, “The deacon’s load is all cat-sticks.”
1870 Daily E. Argus (Portland ME) 4 Feb /3, He next tried to descend the “cat-stick” chimney; but he had only got part way down when the warlike woman emptied her straw bed upon the fire. 1881 St. Nicholas 9.71 PA, The chimney was built up only as high as the log walls reached, the intention being to “cat-stick and daub” it afterward to a sufficient height. 1884 Dayton Daily Herald (OH) 18 Aug /5, He found, from making clay mortar for the old cat-stick chimneys, that the way to make good hard mortar was to pound clay fine before mixing. 1899 Daily Eve. Transcript (Boston MA) 14 Jan 12/2, The “Caton chimney” of Kentucky is doubtless an emigrant from the Atlantic coast, with tobacco stalks substituted for cat-sticks.
4 = stickball n 1. Cf 1 above
2010 Boland One Day 97 NYC, Stickball, also called catstick, was my favorite. If the right mix of kids showed up . . we played a game of catstick as if it were a regular baseball game. We used a tennis ball, had catchers that wore masks and an umpire calling balls and strikes.