Category Archives: 5 Things

5 Reasons I Started Another Wiffleball League

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.

Sincerely,

Josh Smith

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5 Things That Happened Over The Weekend

So WiffleATL, CCWA, and PWL started their seasons over the weekend. But what else happened? Well, a lot. We are entering a time of year for wiffleball when everything accelerates, a time-frame for the game that I like to refer to as ‘budding‘. One minute you have a handle on things on all that is going on in the wiffle world (or at least think you do) and then the next minute you’re totally lost. Leagues pop up that you’ve never heard of. Tournaments set dates. Rankings come out. Articles spring up everywhere like dandelions. A normal day for you becomes some league’s opening day for the season. Before you know it almost every league is in full swing. When I started this blog around 14 months ago I first noticed this phenomenon. I stayed on top of things pretty well and then all of a sudden I could not keep up with all that was going on. It was during this time I realized just how big this sport really has become and was in awe of it’s vastness. But enough chit-chat let’s get you caught up on what happened this past weekend. Here we go!…

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Under The Rader: 5 Leagues That Might Surprise Us in 2012

Well it’s that time of year again. The landscape is becoming greener. The sky clearer. You can actually wear short sleeves and not bring a jacket for ‘just in case’. Picnics abound at all the surrounding parks. There’s no denying it: spring has arrived. Some of you may completely forget about wiffleball in the winter and it’s only when the symptoms of spring return that you once again find yourself behind your keyboard visiting the websites of your favorite leagues. A lot of you probably check on the same few that are considered by many to be the elite leagues in the country. You know the leagues: Golden Stick, Kalamazoo, Palisades, Hess Field, and so on… But what you might not know is that there are some incredibly promising leagues on the cusp of greatness. Some of the five leagues I’m about to mention may be brand spanking new or have been around a while and are reforming themselves. I can only speculate that these leagues can deliver what they promise in 2012 but I believe that these five leagues have potential to impress us all this year.

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5 Things: Non-U.S. Countries Who Frequent Wiffler’s Digest

This website has been operational for a little over a year now and as the hits have been racking up there have been more and more people visiting the site that live outside the United States. Surprisingly few of these foreign visitors are from this hemisphere. Seriously Mexico, what’s the deal? Here are the five countries that visit this site the most:

1. CanadaIt is far too often Americans forget about our friends north of the border. While jokes and snide remarks toward Canadians seem never-ending — Canada has just as much potential to host many wiffleball leagues as the United States. Their winters may be harsher than ours but they have an advantage that many other countries outside the U.S. does not have: open access to American products such as Wiffle Inc. 
I suspect that this website has been detecting significant traffic from Canada because of the Crofton Wiffleball League. But it’s not out of the question to imagine that there’s some guy in the Yukon, huddled in a cabin on a dial-up modem, that has developed a sudden interest in this sport.

2. Russia – Whereas Canada has been recently spiking our international audience tracker, Russia has always appeared among the various countries on the tracker. The reasons for interest in this sport in Russia are unknown. I can think of no realistic reason how a Russian would even know anything about wiffleball. Perhaps there is a U.S. citizen (possibly of Russian ancestry) studying or living abroad in Russia. But since there has been a steady number coming from that country for months there could be a few people there who are searching for interest and starting the very first Slavic wiffleball league. If that is the case I just hope they have some way of contacting us to let us know that such an event has taken place so that the league tracker can better reflect the growing international influence the game has.

3. Taiwan – Although they belong to the Republic of China, Taiwan seems to have developed it’s own autonomy in a sense (it was it’s own country for a while…loooong story) so much that people from Taiwan, not China, visit this website. To date, there has not been a single recorded person from mainland China to visit this website. I am not sure if Taiwan has more liberal internet censorship than mainland China. I don’t see how this site would not make the cut for China. Must be all that anti-communist propaganda we spread? The most logical reason there is a Taiwanese presence in our audience is because there is a league in Taiwan. Unfortunately we do not know much about them since they do not know sufficient English to establish any dialogue. It seems only fair that since we import so much from Taiwan that we export something fun to them.

4. Japan – Ah yes, the land of the rising sun. Our friend, Tadashi Onizuka has been showing improvement with each pitching video he posts. He could become known as the Asian wiffleboy if the sport takes off in Japan. Japan is really the only non-U.S. country I could see wiffleball really taking off. They have built a thriving baseball community and seem to really be interested in bat and ball sports. Wiffleball seems like a perfect match for urban youths crowded into cramped areas of Tokyo and various other large metropolitan cities.

5. Germany – The only thing more shocking than Germany being among the top 5 non-U.S. countries to visit the site is the fact that they visit more than the United Kingdom and France. Interest in baseball is higher in Germany than it is in France but it’s not much. Germany has Baseball-Bundesliga, a 15-team “elite” (professional?) baseball league but the interest in bat and ball sports there is pitiful when compared to sports such as football (or what we call “soccer”). I am skeptical that Germany has enough interest in wiffleball to develop any leagues or tournaments. But then again – you never can be too sure about these things.



*Here is a brief list of other countries that are visiting the site nearly as often as the five countries previously mentioned: Brazil, India, France, United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Australia.