Wiffle ball

Last updated
A Wiffle bat and ball Wiffle bat and ball.jpg
A Wiffle bat and ball

Wiffle ball, a team sport developed in 1953 in Fairfield, Connecticut, is a scaled back variation of baseball designed for playing in a confined space. [1] The sport is played using a perforated light-weight plastic ball and a long hollow plastic bat. Two teams of one to five players each attempt to advance imaginary runners to home plate, and score, based on where each batter places the ball on the field. The term Wiffle ball may refer to the sport as a whole, or the ball used in the sport. Wiffle is a registered trademark of Wiffle Ball, Inc. and was derived from the slang word whiff meaning to strikeout. [1]



Miniature versions of baseball have been played for decades, including stickball, improvised by children, using everything from rolled up socks to tennis balls. The ball most commonly used in the game was invented by David N. Mullany at his home in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1953 [2] when he designed a ball that curved easily for his 12-year-old son. It was named when his son and his friends would refer to a strikeout as a "whiff". The Wiffle Ball is about the same size as a regulation baseball, but is hollow, lightweight, of resilient plastic, and no more than 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. One half is perforated with eight .75-inch (19 mm) oblong holes; the other half is non-perforated. This construction allows pitchers to throw a tremendous variety of curveballs and risers.[ citation needed ]

In April 2011, the government of the State of New York proclaimed that wiffle ball, as well as kickball, freeze tag and dodgeball were a "significant risk of injury" for children, and declared that any summer camp program that included two or more of such activities would be subject to government regulation. [3] The story became a frequent source of ridicule and amusement, with Parenting.com sarcastically commenting, "According to new legislation introduced in New York State, to survive classic schoolyard games like capture the flag is to cheat death." [4] Wiffle ball executives originally thought the order was a joke. The company has never been sued over safety issues in its 50+ year history. [5] The disapproval of people from across the nation pressured the New York legislature to remove wiffle ball and other entries such as archery and scuba diving from the list of high-risk activities, that require state government oversight. [6]


Wiffle ball being played in a park Game of wiffleball.jpg
Wiffle ball being played in a park

The game became popular nationwide by the 1960s, [7] and is played in backyards, on city streets, and on beaches. The game is similar to baseball, and is designed for 2–10 players. A single game of wiffle ball consists of 7 innings or 60 minutes, whichever is earlier. [8] [9]

To play the game, get a wiffle ball and a bat. If a bat is not available, a broomstick or other such stick may be used. Marking a playing field is not necessary, but if a field is marked, it is shaped like an isosceles triangle. The batter stands at the top of the triangle looking down the two equal sides that are about 60 feet in length. A ball hit about thirty feet counts as a "single" and a ball hit about 45 feet counts as a "double." When a ball is hit outside of the sides of the triangle, it counts as a foul ball. The line across the bottom of the triangle is about twenty feet in length, and a ball hit across this line counts as a "home run." Scoring of this game is similar to scoring in baseball as are the terms used, i.e., "single," "double," "foul ball" and "home run." However, there is no running around bases for the batter(s), and there is no chasing the ball for the pitcher and fielders. [9]

A wiffle ball, showing the perforated half, which allows for easy curvature while pitching. Wiffle ball.jpg
A wiffle ball, showing the perforated half, which allows for easy curvature while pitching.


Tournaments have been the driving force in modern wiffle ball and have been held in the United States and Europe since 1977. That year, Rick Ferroli began holding tournaments in his backyard tribute to Fenway Park in Hanover, Massachusetts. [10] In 1980, the World Wiffle Ball Championship was established in Mishawaka, Indiana by Jim Bottorff and Larry Grau. With the explosion of the Internet in the 1990s, there are now hundreds of Wiffle ball tournaments played in the United States, most in the same place every year, with a few tournament "circuits". The World Wiffle Ball Championship remains the oldest tournament in the nation, having moved to the Chicago suburbs in 2013, after introducing regional stops over three decades in Baltimore; Los Angeles; Indianapolis; Eugene, Oregon; and Barcelona, Spain. [11] The tournament is featured at #27 in the book, "101 Baseball Places to Visit Before You Strike Out." [12]

There is a national fast pitch tournament every summer held in Morenci, Michigan as well. This tournament determines which league is the best in the country. It is called the NWLA Tournament. [13]

The first United Wiffle National Championship Tournament was held at PeoplesBank Park in York, Pennsylvania in 2020. [14]


There are many competitive wiffle ball leagues in the United States, which include the prominent Major League Wiffle Ball (MLW) [15] or the American Wiffle Ball Association (AWA), although they are unrelated. Another one was a small wiffleball league started in June 2000 by Shaun Breen in the town of Cohoes, New York. The league operated until June 2004 and in its three years of operation it attracted players from Long Island, New York and garnered the attention of ESPN Magazine. [16]

MLW was established by Kyle Schultz in Brighton, Michigan in 2009. As of 2022, the league has eight teams: Eastern Eagles, Midwest Mallards, Great Lakes Gators, Downtown Diamondbacks, Western Wildcats, Pacific Predators, Metro Magic, and the Coastal Cobras. MLW has a strong following on social media, uploads highlights of all of their games to YouTube, and has also hosted open public tournaments in 8 different states (Michigan, Ohio, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania). [17] The league gained notoriety throughout its 2020 season, after several other professional sports were postponed or cancelled. The league has been featured by TBS [18] , The Athletic [19] , Whistle Sports [20] , and twice been highlighted on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 Plays [21] . The most recent champions are the Downtown Diamondbacks, managed by Jimmy Knorp. [22] [23] [24] [25]

The name has also been associated with a small league in the southwestern Illinois city of Granite City, [26] which has come to be a hub of the sport with the Lakeside Kings having won multiple world championships in the Wiffle Ball National Championship Series. The League's inaugural national championship was held in October 2001 in Granite City, [27] whose wiffle only stadium [28] has long been known for its similarity to Fenway Park and Busch Stadium. [29] The national championship was launched following a decade long increase in interest in the sport, [30] among fans and players of all ages. [31]

The most viewed professional Wiffle Ball league (including YouTube Shorts) as of 2022, is AWA Wiffle Ball, established by Jack Blahous in Edmonds, Washington in 2020. The league consists of six teams: Northern Nighthawks, Southern Stingers, Eastern Enforcers, Western Wolf Pack, Central Cyclones, and Pacific Pilots.

As of 2015, there was also a sixty player league in Havre de Grace, Maryland, which featured former NBA player Gary Neal. [32]

In 2013, the Greater Cincinnati Wiffleball League was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio. The GCWL season runs from May through October. Averaging 10 teams and over 50 players each season, it is recognized as one of the premier wiffleball leagues in the United States.


Some wiffle ball players have built fields to resemble major league ballparks. Thomas P. Hannon, Jr. authored a book, Backyard Ball, on his experiences building a smaller version of Ebbets Field. Patrick M. O'Connor wrote a book, Little Fenway, about building his versions of Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. [33] But not all wiffle ball fields have been modeled from major league ball parks. Some have created original fields, Strawberry Field in Encino, California being the most exquisite. Rick Messina spent over $700,000 constructing Strawberry Field, which features lights for night games, bleachers, and a press box. [34] He also converted a neighboring house into a clubhouse/pub. [35]

Building fields can lead to controversy and legal issues. In 2008, The New York Times published an article about Greenwich, Connecticut teenagers who were forced by the city to tear down a wiffle ball field they had built because of neighbor complaints. [36]

In 1965 a wiffle ball was initially used when developing the sport of pickleball, but it was eventually replaced with a more durable ball. [37]

In his 2003 book The Complete Far Side , cartoonist Gary Larson reproduces a letter he received after including a "wiffle swatter" in his cartoon. The letter contains language from Wiffle Ball Incorporated's attorneys: "In the future, when you use the brand name WIFFLE, the entire brand should be capitalized, and it should only be used in reference to a product currently manufactured by The Wiffle Ball, Inc." [38] [39] In 2009, video game developer Skyworks Technologies released a game based on Wiffle ball, simply titled Wiffle Ball . [40]

In science, it is frequently used by marine biologists as a size reference in photos to measure corals and other objects. [41] [42]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baseball</span> Bat-and-ball game

Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each, taking turns batting and fielding. The game is live when the umpire signals to the pitcher either verbally or by pointing, indicating that the ball is now in play. A player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball that a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objective of the offensive team is to hit the ball into the field of play, away from the other team's players, allowing its players to run the bases, having them advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boston Red Sox</span> American Major League Baseball franchise in Boston, MA (founded 1901)

The Boston Red Sox are an American professional baseball team based in Boston. The Red Sox compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) East division. Founded in 1901 as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox' home ballpark has been Fenway Park since 1912. The "Red Sox" name was chosen by the team owner, John I. Taylor, c. 1908, following the lead of previous teams that had been known as the "Boston Red Stockings", including the forerunner of the Atlanta Braves. The team has won nine World Series championships, tied for the third-most of any MLB team, and has played in 13 World Series. Their most recent World Series appearance and win was in 2018. In addition, they won the 1904 American League pennant, but were not able to defend their 1903 World Series championship when the New York Giants refused to participate in the 1904 World Series.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fenway Park</span> Baseball stadium in Boston, Massachusetts

Fenway Park is a baseball stadium located in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, near Kenmore Square. Since 1912, it has been the home of the Boston Red Sox, the city's American League baseball team, and since 1953, its only Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise. While the stadium was built in 1912, it was substantially rebuilt in 1934, and underwent major renovations and modifications in the 21st century. It is the oldest active ballpark in MLB. Because of its age and constrained location in Boston's dense Fenway–Kenmore neighborhood, the park has many quirky features, including "The Triangle", Pesky's Pole, and the Green Monster in left field. It is the fifth-smallest among MLB ballparks by seating capacity, second-smallest by total capacity, and one of eight that cannot accommodate at least 40,000 spectators.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nine-ball</span> Type of cue sport

Nine-ball is a discipline of the cue sport pool. The game's origins are traceable to the 1920s in the United States. It is played on a rectangular billiard table with pockets at each of the four corners and in the middle of each long side. Using a cue stick, players must strike the white cue ball to pocket nine colored billiard balls, hitting them in ascending numerical order. An individual game is won by the player pocketing the 9-ball. Matches are usually played as a race to a set number of racks, with the player who reaches the set number winning the match.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Major League Baseball</span> North American professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization and the oldest major professional sports league in the world. MLB is composed of 30 total teams, divided equally between the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), with 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada. The NL and AL were formed in 1876 and 1901, respectively. Beginning in 1903, the two leagues signed the National Agreement and cooperated but remained legally separate entities until 2000, when they merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball. MLB is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Backyard cricket</span> Informal variations of cricket played outside of organized leagues

Backyard cricket, street cricket, beach cricket, corridor cricket, garden cricket, box cricket referred to as gully cricket in the Indian subcontinent, is an informal ad hoc variant of the game of cricket, played by people of all genders and all ages in gardens, back yards, on the street, in parks, carparks, beaches and any area not specifically intended for the purpose.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Portland Sea Dogs</span> Minor League Baseball team in Maine

The Portland Sea Dogs are a Minor League Baseball team based in Portland, Maine, playing in the Eastern League. Established in 1994, the Sea Dogs are the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American handball</span>

American handball, known as handball in the United States and sometimes referred to as wallball, is a sport in which players use their hands to hit a small, rubber ball against a wall such that their opponent(s) cannot do the same without the ball touching the ground twice nor hitting out-of-bound. The three versions are four-wall, three-wall and one-wall. Each version can be played either by two players (singles), three players (cutthroat) or four players (doubles), but in official tournaments, singles and doubles are the only versions played.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Field lacrosse</span> Full contact outdoor mens team sport

Field lacrosse is a full contact outdoor men's sport played with ten players on each team. The sport originated among Native Americans, and the modern rules of field lacrosse were initially codified by Canadian William George Beers in 1867. Field lacrosse is one of three major versions of lacrosse played internationally. The rules of men's lacrosse differ significantly from women's field lacrosse. The two are often considered to be different sports with a common root. Another version, box lacrosse is also played under different rules.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Braves Field</span> American baseball park

Braves Field was a baseball park located in Boston, Massachusetts. Today the site is home to Nickerson Field on the campus of Boston University. The stadium was home of the Boston Braves of the National League from 1915 to 1952, prior to the Braves' move to Milwaukee in 1953. The stadium hosted the 1936 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and Braves home games during the 1948 World Series. The Boston Red Sox used Braves Field for their home games in the 1915 and 1916 World Series since the stadium had a larger seating capacity than Fenway Park. Braves Field was the site of Babe Ruth's final season, playing for the Braves in 1935. From 1929 to 1932, the Boston Red Sox played select regular season games periodically at Braves Field. On May 1, 1920, Braves Field hosted the longest major league baseball game in history – 26 innings, which eventually ended in a 1–1 tie.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kickball</span> Team sport

Kickball is a team sport and league game, similar to baseball. As in baseball, one team tries to score by having its players return a ball from home base to the field and then circle the bases, while the other team tries to stop them by tagging them "out" with the ball before they can return to the home base. Instead of hitting a small, hard ball with a bat, players kick an inflated rubber ball; this makes it more accessible to young children. As in baseball, teams alternate half-innings. The team with the most runs after a predefined number of innings wins.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">College baseball</span> Baseball that is played on the intercollegiate level at institutions of higher education

College baseball is baseball that is played on the intercollegiate level at institutions of higher education. In comparison to football and basketball, college competition in the United States plays a smaller role in developing professional players, as baseball's professional minor leagues are more extensive, with a greater history of supplying players to MLB. Moving directly from high school to the professional level is more common in baseball than in football or basketball. However, if players do opt to enroll at a four-year college to play baseball, they must complete three years to regain professional eligibility, unless they reach age 21 before starting their third year of college. Players who enroll at junior colleges regain eligibility after one year at that level. In the 2020 season, which was abbreviated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 300 NCAA Division I teams in the United States.

<i>Backyard Football</i> Video games series

Backyard Football is a series of video games for various systems. The series was developed by Humongous Entertainment and published by Infogrames, Atari and The Evergreen Group. It is one of several sub-series in the Backyard Sports series, and is the first to feature professional players as kids, examples being Steve Young and Barry Sanders. The series currently has eleven titles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">PeoplesBank Park</span> Baseball park in York, Pennsylvania, USA

PeoplesBank Park is a 7,500-seat baseball park in York, Pennsylvania. It is the home of the York Revolution of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The park hosted its first regular season baseball game on June 16, 2007, as the Revolution defeated the Newark Bears, 9–6.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bat-and-ball games</span> Field games played by two opposing teams

Bat-and-ball games are field games played by two opposing teams. Action starts when the defending team throws a ball at a dedicated player of the attacking team, who tries to hit it with a bat and run between various safe areas in the field to score runs (points). The defending team can use the ball in various ways against the attacking team's players to force them off the field when they are not in safe zones, and thus prevent them from further scoring. The best known modern bat-and-ball games are cricket and baseball, with common roots in the 18th-century games played in England.

In Israel, baseball was historically not a popular sport, the IAB founded by Randy Kahn in 1985, is one of six nations to qualify in baseball for the 2020 Olympics has yet to be felt. There are approximately 1,000 players in 16 cities across the country. Volunteer coaches and donors are instrumental to the growth and development of the sport as baseball resources are very low. Israel is currently ranked 19th in the world in the sport, though that does not reflect its performance in 2019, in which it qualified for the 2020 Olympics.

Fuzzball is a bat-and-ball street game related to baseball, usually formed as a pick-up game, and played in various areas of the United States. The equipment consists of a bat and a tennis ball that has had its outer layer burned or worn off. The rules come from baseball and are modified to fit the situation, i.e. whether it is played indoors or outside. Fuzzball can be played by as few as two players; outside of leagues in St. Louis, the Bevo Area Fuzzball League and the St. Louis Metro Fuzzball League and the annual Kearns Park Fuzzball Tournament of Champions, it exists as a pickup game, which has been successfully transplanted to "players leagues" which play a quasi-legal, quasi-outlaw version in Philadelphia and Northern California. There are also fully official organized leagues for indoor fuzzball in St. Louis. Interest in the game was waning, however, at the turn of the century: by 2004, most serious players were in their 40s, with a decreasing number of new players becoming interested. Many St. Louis locals consider fuzzball to be a minor league training ground for future corkball players.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">JetBlue Park</span> Baseball park located in Fort Myers, Florida

JetBlue Park is a baseball park in Fort Myers, Florida, part of the Fenway South training and development facility.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Variations of baseball</span>

Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport that has many recreational variants, and is very related to the Olympic discipline of softball, with the two sports being administered internationally alongside Baseball5 by the World Baseball Softball Confederation.


  1. 1 2 "The Wiffle Ball, Inc. - A Brief History". www.wiffle.com.
  2. "What's 50, Curvy And Full of Air?; It's the Wiffle Ball, Still Popular, Holes and All". The New York Times . August 14, 2003. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  3. Blain, Glenn (April 19, 2011). "Classic kids games like kickball deemed "unsafe" by state in effort to increase summer camp regulation – New York Daily News". Articles.nydailynews.com. Archived from the original on December 24, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  4. "Playground Games Deemed Unsafe for Kids". Parenting.com. April 20, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  5. Blain, Glenn (April 20, 2011). "Wiffle Ball creators call scrapped New York state listing of backyard game as dangerous 'ridiculous' – New York Daily News". Articles.nydailynews.com. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  6. "State Officials Back Off Regulating Freeze Tag, Kids' Games". NBC New York. April 19, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  7. "A Brief History of Wiffle Ball". 29 June 2014.
  8. "Wiffle Ball Rules & Field Dimensions". 13 July 2020.
  9. 1 2 "The Wiffle Ball, Inc. – A Brief History". www.wiffle.com. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  10. "Wiffleball: A Connecticut invention that keeps giving back". 17 August 2011.
  11. "World Wiffle Ball Championship".
  12. "101 Baseball Places to Visit Before You Strike Out".
  13. "Official Site of the NWLA Tournament". NWLA Tournament. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  14. "United Wiffleball". United Wiffleball. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  15. "MLW Wiffle Ball - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2022-09-27.
  16. Wood, Sylvia (August 6, 2001). "A Field of Dreams on a Cul-de-Sac". Albany Times Union. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  17. "MLW Wiffle Ball - (Brighton, MI) - powered by LeagueLineup.com". www.leaguelineup.com. Retrieved 2022-09-27.
  18. MLW Wiffle Ball on TBS Full Segment , retrieved 2022-09-27
  19. Nesbitt, Stephen J. "MLW Wiffle Ball started as a neighborhood league among friends. Now it's a burgeoning business". The Athletic. Retrieved 2022-09-27.
  20. $250,000 Wiffle Ball League!?! 🤯 | MLW Wiffle Ball , retrieved 2022-09-27
  21. MLW MADE IT ON SPORTSCENTER (Our Reaction) , retrieved 2022-09-27
  22. MLW Wiffle Ball - (Brighton, MI) - powered by LeagueLineup.com
  23. "How the DN sports staff is handling life without sports". The Daily Nebraskan. March 20, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  24. Banks, Matt (September 5, 2020). "Major League Wiffle Ball: How a playground game became an internet sensation". SW Londoner. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  25. "How Major League Wiffle Ball is turning a classic summer game into a sport". Inverse. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  26. "Baseball – Wiffle Ball Championships". Belleville News-Democrat. October 18, 2001. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  27. Kloeckner, Rod (October 20, 2001). "Wiffle Ball Championship Comes to Granite". Belleville News-Democrat. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  28. Fatsis, Stefan (August 6, 1999). "The Wiffle Kings". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  29. Wheatley, Tom (October 18, 1991). "Playing Field Has a Touch of Busch, Fenway All in One". St. Louis Post-Dispatcher. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  30. Peterson, Anne (August 1, 1991). "To Aficianados, Wiffle Ball is Serious Sport". Akron Beakon-Journal. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  31. "Wiffle Ball Association Turns Kid's Sport into Adult Mania". St. Louis Post-Dispatcher. August 11, 1991. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  32. McRoberts, Randy (May 21, 2015). "Havre de Grace Major League Wiffle league opens season with visit from NBA's Gary Neal". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  33. "Official Site of the Little Fenway Wiffle Ball Field Located in Jericho, VT". Little Fenway. Archived from the original on February 2, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  34. "Wiffle Ball Hits Home – Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. October 11, 2000. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  35. Wiffle Ball: The Ultimate Guide by Michael Hermann, pages 107–110
  36. Peter Applebome (July 10, 2008). "Our Towns – Build a Wiffle Ball Field and Lawyers Will Come". The New York Times. Greenwich, Connecticut. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  37. Lucore, Jennifer; Youngren, Beverly (2018). History of pickleball : more than 50 years of fun! (First ed.). Oceanside, CA: Two Picklers Press. p. 11. ISBN   978-1-7320705-0-9.
  38. "How the Wiffle Ball Came to Be".
  39. Larson, Gary (2003). The Complete Far Side . Vol. 2. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 71. ISBN   0-7407-2113-5.
  40. Bedigian, Louis (April 30, 2007). "Wiffle Ball Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on August 18, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  41. "Live Webcams: Scientists Studying Corals Damaged by Oil in the Gulf of Mexico". Penn State Science. 25 June 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  42. "PHOTOS & VIDEO". Nautilus Live. Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2015.