After four years the cherished Hess Field Wiffle Ball production, Wiffle Task Force (WTF) has returned. It is still unclear if they will be putting a video up for every week of regular season play but even if they upload an episode every month it could work. This video is definitely worth your time if you are into this league and like wiffle videos with commentary.
Monthly Archives: May 2012
Jamie Francis of Crofton Wiffleball Association in Canada is quite handy with a camera. Recently he uploaded this video of a 3D still frame and it’s pretty impressive. Francis has actually been doing pretty well as commissioner considering this is the league’s first year. The league has seen plenty of twists and turns this year. They started out just as a few guys then expanded to six teams recently but things took an odd turn about a week and a half ago. Francis has had to “make decisions for the betterment of the league”. The decisions being to get rid of the Skididdlers and Smoke Stack due to their spotty attendance. Players remaining from those teams who still want to play have the opportunity to join up with the four existing teams (click HERE to read the commissioner’s address). Making a decision like that can kill a league or give it the stability it needs to finish a season. It looks as if the decision will have a positive outcome. The CWA has been through a lot in it’s incredibly short history and seeing that they are still around is a testament to the resilience of the commissioner and core players. They have a great thing going and hopefully they will be around for years to come. But back to the video, it may be one of the best wiffle videos posted this year. Sure, it’s no This Month In Wiffleball but it’s truly unique. No one else has posted a wiffleball video quite like it before.
I have not mentioned myself much on this blog and I prefer to keep it that way as much as possible but this post requires me to narrate my recent personal experience as a wiffleball league commissioner and it is for this reason that I will be using words like “I” and “me.” It is my hope that you will forgive me for speaking out of the third person narration of the latest topics at hand in the wiffle world. Now that we have that out of the way, please allow me to continue…
Some of you reading this may be aware of the fact that I ran a small league called the Garrett Drive Wiffleball League for nearly 10 years in my home town. Last year, for a host of reasons, things just did not work out. I pulled the plug on the season and ultimately the league. I felt it was time to move on and I was tired or wasting my time with something I believed was fruitless. I had pulled the plug on the league before in 2008. But when I decided to revive it in 2010 the results were pretty amazing. For some reason the results could not be duplicated the following year. Fool me once…right? I was definitely done running a league. If you don’t run your league give your commissioner a pat on the back – it is a lot of hard work and it is seldom appreciated. When spring came I felt no desire to get a league running again. Sure, I felt like throwing the ball around but I’ve got a couple friends I could do that with any time. Getting any more people than that is either difficult or complicates things.
However, all this changed in mid-April when Chris Gallaway invited me out to Washington D.C. to check out his league, the 20-team behemoth known as the Potomac Wiffleball League.
1. Chris Gallaway – Other than being one of the nicest dudes on the planet, Chris impressed me with his never ending commitment to the sport. My skill in operating a league have never been anywhere near the level of Gallaway. I truly adore this game and I’ve talked to a lot of players and fanatics and if I had to say who loves the game most I would have to pick Chris. The PWL is Gallaway’s endless labor of love. The level in which he has organized his league is something that can only be achieved by a mad-man or master strategist. I’m not sure which Gallaway is…possibly both. The way he talked about the game reminded me of something I should have always known…I need to play wiffleball. It no longer seems like an option. He unwittingly helped me realize that. This realization took a while to set in but made the trip worth it when you consider that it rained on that Sunday and I did not get to see any PWL games. On a related note: expect a portion of a video interview I captured with him on that rainy Sunday. An article featuring the full interview will be in the next issue of the magazine and then followed by a posting of the FULL interview.
2. This Blog/Magazine – It’s kind of hard to ignore the desire to play the game when I am constantly watching just how much fun leagues like WSEM, KWL, and Palisades WBL are having. I generally get behind the keyboard after having a glass of milk and browse the web for the latest news and video before getting ready for work. Sometimes I have enough time to put together a post and other times I just watch a highlights video or read the latest headline on a league website. I work together with a lot of people who really care about the game with each issue of the magazine. This website and the magazine served as a constant reminder that I was not playing wiffleball, only studying it. What is the fun in that? To be honest, I do enjoy studying the game and the way that it has grown to what it is today but is it so wrong to enjoy hitting one of those perforated plastic balls every once in a while? No.
3. Destination: Beautiful – A constant challenge I faced every spring while preparing each season for my old league was finding a grassy flat space with a fence that was not being used for something else. As simple as the task may sound, one visit to West Virginia will make you understand why such a place is easier described than found. Half of my friends in my home town have either moved far away to do something with their college degrees or to nearby cities like Charleston or Huntington. One of my friends took up residence in Huntington last year and when I visited him merely a week after returning home from Washington D.C. he showed me a run-down looking park with 3 baseball fields and a softball field. It used to host a single-A semi-pro baseball team for the Cubs in the early 1990s but has since been home to various little leagues and adult softball leagues. There was plenty of room for the addition of a wiffleball league my friend pointed out. I found it funny because I still had no desire to start up a league. So we walked around for an hour or so and threw a wiffleball around. The area felt like a good home for a wiffleball league and the city had 4 times the population of my home town. The pieces were falling into place without me even wanting to pursue the idea or starting a new league. It felt like destiny.
4. Greg Sowards – I feel that it is appropriate to give the “friend” mentioned in reason #3 a name and face for you (the reader). His name is Greg Sowards and he has been my best friend for the past 12 years. He helped me create my first wiffleball league and was my teammate since 2002. He took me to St. Cloud Commons community park, which was only a few blocks from his house, which now is home to our new league (Huntington Wiffle League). He was one of the few people who showed up week-in and week-out in the old league no matter what. Were it not for his encouragement I would still not be playing in a league right now. It is for this reason I named him co-commissioner of the league. We have been playing twice a week for over a month now and it is all because of him. He has a girlfriend and three kids but still finds a way to get to the field every week. He captains his own team now, Beaver Fever, and has done a great job recruiting new players.
5. KWL Rulebook – Anyone who has ever started their own league knows that establishing the rules is one of hardest tasks of being a commissioner. My first league spent its first two years arguing over rules. We had to make it up as we went along. Finally when we had all the rules established we had to switch venues. Thankfully we avoided all that bickering by adopting and modifying the KWL rules. They probably have the best rules out there and are perfect for most non-fast pitch leagues. We have had a blast and not had a single argument about rules so far and all that was made possible by the clear rules as published by the KWL. Now I can focus on other aspects of the league rather than making a outline for a rulebook.
All of these reasons and more serve as a pretty good explanation as to why the blog has not been updated at the same frequency as it was last year. I hope this long post makes up for the lack of content lately. Hope everyone has a great season. I know I will.
Pat “Truck” Moriarty, HRL:TC commissioner, has been hinting to the entire wiffle community that he has something major in the works. Well now we know what it is. Recently a member from the league let the cat out of the bag on the NWLA messageboard. The event is called the Big Wiff and it will take place in 10 cities across Minnesota on August 18. The winners from each location meet on the following day (Sunday, August 19) in Blaine, MN. The tournament will benefit all 9 of Minnesota’s Miracle Leagues, which offer kids with mental/physical disabilities the opportunity to play baseball. Add this tournament to the growing list of great causes that the sport of wiffleball helps generate money for. The tagline for the tournament seems to be “[The] World’s Largest Wiffle Ball Tournament” and if registration is packed for each of the 10 locations it might very well be the largest tournament in the world. If this becomes an annual event it will surely become one of the highlights of the year for the sport and possibly a new mecca for fans of the game. The tournament has 5 major sponsors as of now and will have a creative uniform contest, mascot game, and teams that gather the most pledges for support win a prize. More on this event as details emerge…
We all love wiffleball. Obviously. Why would you be on this site, let alone reading this right now if you weren’t a fanatic of the plastic? It is assumed of most wifflers that they also love baseball, as this is the sport that led to the creation of wiffleball, which most people consider a miniature version of America’s pastime. I’ve covered and followed recreational wiffleball long enough to know that the passion behind the sport is strong, fun, and growing. It is through further research that I discovered another sport league that I believe could be grouped with us oddball wifflers.
The Mini Basketball League of Vermont is a league that plays 3-on-3 b-ball games inside a small enclosed concrete rink with 8.5 feet tall basketball rims and a smaller ball, despite the rims being full size. The league’s YouTube videos garner thousands of views, and their idea has spawned other miniature basketball leagues across the country. The comments on their Facebook wall and their YouTube videos span from “What an idea! Definitely going to try to set this up in my town,” to “Wow, what a bunch of losers…play some real ball, guys.”
Why am I writing about this creative sport league? Well, I think wiffleball players have faced identical responses to those who don’t understand what the game is to us. On the surface, staging a season each year where multiple wiffleball teams try to win a championship may seem silly to some. But I believe it is the pure competitive spirit, along with the fun atmosphere created by a game such as wiffleball that makes this sport so fun. Not just playing it, but following other leagues, covering other leagues, and reading up on other leagues and how they play their variant of the game we all know and love.
These “miniature” sports are all so beloved in America, can we call them miniature? I can’t drive a golf ball to save my life, but I always win putt-putt golf matches with my friends. I can race down the ice to hit the ball into the net in a game of broomball, but I can hardly skate to play hockey. I can’t take down a 6’3”, 185-pound wideout, but I can rip the flag off his side as soon as his hands touch the pigskin.
I think we can all relate. The greatness of wiffleball leagues lies not only in the fun, but in the pretending. Come on. Don’t say you don’t step up to the plate with your golden stick and act like you aren’t the star of a Major League Baseball team with the hopes of millions of fans rested in your quick batting hands. Don’t tell me you don’t deliver plastic pitches to the strike board without the thought of hurling a perfect game just like Phillip Humber did earlier this baseball season.
Anyone can play wiffleball. Nearly anybody. That is a primary reason why we all love these silly sports. We can all play with our buddies in a joyous atmosphere all while playing a competitive sport, vying for a W.
So I leave you, the recreational wiffler, with a question to ponder the next time you pick up a plastic eight-holed ball: Is this great game really miniature?
Note: Upon discovering the MBL, I fell in love. I myself used to play basketball, and I would so join a league such as this if there were one where I live. Their 2012 season begins shortly, and they regularly post videos. Check out their official website here for more information: http://www.minibasketballusa.com/
It’s good to see that our friend in Japan, Tadashi is still throwing the ball around. He’s developed a pretty nasty screwball. He’s also got a pretty nice riser and sinker. My only question is when are he and his few friends just going to get a league going?
HRL appears to be very much alive and well this season. They are putting their best foot forward and if this is any indication as to what the rest of the year will be like then many people will be watching this league much more closely than in years past. On their Facebook page they’ve proclaimed to the rest of the “wiffle world” that “we’re back beeyotches!” Fair enough.