Circle City Wiffle Ball

Circle City Wiffle Ball
eSEA ISLAND, GA - NOVEMBER 14: Autograph wiffle ball bats are donated to students from Altama Elementary school playing in the PGA TOUR Wive's Annual Wiffle Ball Classic charity for Blessings in a Backpack at The RSM Classic at the Sea Island Resort Seaside Course on November 14, 2017 in Sea Island, Georgia. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

Circle City Wiffle Ball

Wiffle Ball Season Is Upon Us

As Major League Baseball fans sit on their couches twiddling their thumbs, looking for something to do, there is a whole world of bat and ball games to be found on YouTube. That game is Circle City Wiffle Ball.

Yeah, one can get a little excited about the draft, probably more than normal given the circumstances. But what is a draft compared to live-action baseball? It is always fun to see somebody’s dreams come true. Watching a person put on a New York Yankees‘ jersey for the first time as a player is nice, but then what? You can look at their high school or college stats, but that can only go so far. People need action. They need the thrill of the game. We need the illusion of normal people doing something we could possibly do. Isn’t that what baseball is, or was (pre-steroid era) about?

Well, baseball might not be the everyday person’s game anymore, but you know what is? Wiffle Ball. It is a game that captures everything baseball used to be to the common, non-muscled out of their mind, person.

A Short History of the Wiffle

Way back in the summer of 1953, when the Yankees were on their way to their fifth consecutive World Series championship, David N. Mullany invented a plastic ball that easily curved for his twelve-year-old son. Mullany’s son and his friends called a strikeout a “wiff” and this led to the name “Wiffle Ball”. And now, three generations of Mullanys later, Wiffle Ball Inc. is still producing their trademark yellow bats and balls.

Circle City Wiffle Ball

The Dirtyard

Indianapolis, nestled in the Tipton Till Plain, is known for its humid summer climate, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., the Indianapolis 500, and most recently, The Dirtyard.

The Dirtyard–a near perfect Wiffle Ball field–is a little slice of heaven cut out of the backyard of some very understanding and supportive parents. The grass is like green angora and the dirt is raked to Japanese garden perfection. Beautiful yellow foul poles stand like mighty redwoods watching over the contests that play out below the shinning mid-west sun or under the lights during a night game. To say the least, The Dirtyard is a dream backyard.

Circle City Wiffle Ball

And what is a ballyard without a team? It is nothing. It is a bag of bones. And that is where Circle City Wiffle Ball (CCW) comes in. CCW is a league composed of eight teams: The Noodlers, the Indy 8 Balls, the Heartland Hackers, the Midcity Moonshoots, the Outlaws, the Pork Pistols, the South Side Short Shorts, and the Yakkers. Each team is composed of at least four ballplayers, but some teams have up to seven on the roster.

Beginnings

Brendan Dudas started the league in 2014 (although the original idea had been kicked around since 2009) in his parent’s backyard. The CCW began with four teams in 2014, blossomed to six in 2015, and is now at eight going into the 2020 season.

Games

Many of the rules for the CCW are the same as a normal baseball game, such as three outs to retire a side, with a few notable exceptions. Games are six innings, about an hour long, and each team can have as many players in the lineup as they want, but only three in the field. The defense consists of a pitcher and two roaming fielders, who can play anywhere they want depending on strategy.

Normal ways to record an out apply with the addition of one childhood favorite called “pitcher’s hand” in which the hitter is out if the ball is placed in the pitcher’s circle before the batter reaches first.  Another interesting way to record an out is a 19th century baseball rule called “soaking”.  “Soaking” is a practice where the runner is out if they are hit by the ball thrown by a fielder. There is no home plate umpire as well, so balls and strikes are dictated by a strike board behind the plate. If it hits the board, strike, if it doesn’t, ball. Also, a foul tip with two strikes that hits the board is considered to have been “caught by the catcher” and is an out.

The rules tend to mirror the National Wiffle League Association (NWLA) rules, with a few modifications to create more action in the game.  One modification gives the hitter the choice of a walk after ball four, or lob pitches, thus creating more balls in play.

The Season

The 2020 season began on June 1 and is set to run through early August. There are twenty-one regular season games and teams typically play double headers and occasionally triple headers. The season will culminate with a World Series. The winning team gets its name on a reclaimed auto racing trophy. CCW also crowns an MVP, along with a CY Young winner and Rookie of the Year.

Following the World Series is an All-Star game. The game is a fundraiser called “Wifflin’ For Whitley”.  Brendan’s niece, Whitley Hedger, was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric brain cancer (DIPG) and passed away in March of 2015. All of the proceeds from the game are donated to Whitley’s Wishes a registered 501c3.

Also, beginning with the 2020 season, the CCW will raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to help send children to an MDA summer camp.

How Does One Get Their CCW News?

The CCW is a stat lover’s dream. To see a complete statistical history, just head over to their mystatsonline.com page. Everything is there, from standings, schedules, and scores, pitching and hitting stats, all the way to league leaders. Bill James would surely be proud.

The CCW YouTube Channel has highlights, a few complete games, and a Dirtyard/Field of Dreams mashup. Fans can also sign up for the “Weekly Wiff”, an email that is sent out, you guessed it, weekly. There is a fantasy wiffle league as well. And if that isn’t enough, you can head over to their shop and purchase a CCW hat to show your support (unfortunately individual team hats are not available, but one can keep their fingers crossed).

There Is No Time Like The Present

Enticed yet? Have you gone through your attic and dusted off your yellow bat? Maybe it’s time to start your own league or just a game in the front yard with some friends. Or, follow Dudas and his wonderful league while waiting for the MLB to get baseball on the field. Big business is nice and all, but community and a sense of belonging is better. This can be found at the CCW. The wonderful world of Wiffle is waiting for you.

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