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National Wiffle Ball Day

Whiff! That was a strike! But this isn't baseball or softball, this is Wiffle ball! Wiffle ball—the game and the ball itself—is celebrated today with National Wiffle Ball Day. In the summer of 1953, David N. Mullany was in his backyard in Fairfield, Connecticut, watching his 12-year-old son and his son's friend play a game with a perforated plastic golf ball and a broomstick handle. They were hitting the plastic golf ball around because they didn't have enough players for a game of baseball or softball, didn't want to break any windows, and didn't have enough space for a field. After trying to throw many curve and slider balls with the golf ball, the son told his father his arm felt like jelly. Mullany had an idea. He got some plastic parts shaped like balls from a nearby factory, cut designs in them, and sent his son out to test them. The ball with eight oblong perforations on one side worked best—it was easier to throw curve balls with and harder to hit than the perforated golf ball. The Wiffle ball was born!

Wiffle balls (stylized as WIFFLE) were soon being produced and sold. The balls were designed to take the place of baseballs, softballs, and stickballs on city streets and in backyards, and could be used indoors too. Hollow, lightweight, and made from tough, rubbery plastic, Wiffle balls didn't fly very far, and they didn't cause damage to neighbors' houses.

The official way to play Wiffle ball is with a long and hollow plastic Wiffle bat. The game is similar to baseball, but running around bases by batters and chasing the ball by pitchers and fielders is eliminated. The field is shaped like an isosceles triangle, with the batter looking down the two sides, which go about 60 feet in length. There are line markings on the triangle for singles, doubles, triples, and home runs. When a ball is hit to one of the markings, the batter does not run to the area, but there instead are "imaginary" runners. A strikeout is a "wiff" or "whiff." Only two players are needed—a pitcher and a batter—but up to ten players can play, with five on each team.

Wiffleball became a popular game across the United States in the 1960s. Since 1980, there has been a World Wiffle Ball Championship each year. There are hundreds of other Wiffle ball championships held across the United States. The NWLA Tournament is a fast-pitch tournament, as is the United Wiffle National Championship Tournament. There are many competitive Wiffle ball leagues, most prominently the American Wiffle Association (AWA) and Major League Wiffle Ball (MLW). Whether played by two people in the street or in a backyard, or by ten people on a professional field, Wiffle Ball has embedded itself into the American consciousness, and we celebrate it today with National Wiffle Ball Day!

How to Observe National Wiffle Ball Day

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