Whiffle ball

This article is about the baseball variant. For the haircut, see Wiffle (hairstyle).

Wiffle® ball is a variation of the sport of baseball designed for indoor or outdoor play in confined areas. The game is played using a perforated, light-weight, rubbery plastic ball and a long, plastic (typically yellow) bat.


The ball used in the game was invented by David N. Mullany at his home in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1953[1] 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". A classic Wiffle ball is about the same size as a regulation baseball, but is hollow plastic no more than 1/8 inch thick. One half is perforated with eight .75-inch (19 mm) oblong holes, with a solid second half. This construction allows pitchers to throw a tremendous variety and size of curveballs, sinkers, and risers. Wiffle balls are typically packaged with a hollow, hard plastic, yellow bat that measures 32 inches (810 mm) in length and about 1.25 inches (32 mm) in diameter.

Wiffle ball in popular culture

Wiffle brand products play a central role in Wiffle Ball Summer: The Ride of the Elmoron.[2] The nonfiction title was released in 2011 and details a bicycle journey taken by a man with a Wiffle Ball bat strapped to his bike frame. The final destination of his journey in the story is a large Wiffle Ball tournament in Lafayette, Ohio.

In his book The Complete Far Side, cartoonist Gary Larson reproduces a letter he received after including a "Wiffle bat" 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."[3]

The Beastie Boys song "Paul Revere" contains a lyric about a Wiffle ball bat; "I did it like this. I did it like that. I did it with the Wiffle Ball bat."

In How I Met Your Mother Season 8 Episode 12: "The Final Page, Part One", Barney said to Ted, "it's a jinx swear, so if you break it I get to hit you in the nuts three times with a Wiffle ball bat."


Tournaments are the driving force of modern Wiffle ball and have been held in America and Canada since the mid-1970s. With the explosion of the internet in the 1990s, there are now hundreds of Wiffle ball tournaments every year in the United States and Canada. Most tournaments are annual events that happen in the same place every year but there are some tournament "circuits."


There are some Wiffle ball enthusiasts who have taken field construction to inspiring heights. Some 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.[4] But not all wiffleball fields have been modeled from major league ball parks. Some have created original fields, Strawberry Field being the most exquisite. Rick Messina spent $700,000+ on constructing Strawberry Field, which features lights for night games, bleachers, & press box.[5] He also converted a neighboring house into a clubhouse/pub.[6]

Building fields can lead to controversy and legal issues. In 2008, the New York Times published an article about some teenagers who had to tear down a Wiffle Ball field they had built because of neighbor complaints.[7]

Safety controversy in spring 2011

In April 2011, the government of New York state proclaimed that Wiffle ball (as well as kickball, freeze tag, and dodgeball) was unsafe and 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.[8] The story often became a source of ridicule and amusement, with Parenting.com sarcastically commented "According to new legislation introduced in New York State, to survive classic schoolyard games like Capture the Flag is to cheat death."[9] Wiffle Ball executives originally thought the order was a "joke". The company has never been sued over safety issues in its 50+ year history.[10] The disapproval of people from across the nation pressured the NY legislature to remove Wiffle ball and many other entries from the list of high risk activities, such as archery and scuba diving, that require state government oversight.[11]


External links

  • , Aug. 4, 2004
  • Old School Plastic: The Origins of Organized Wiffleball
  • The Official Site of Wiffle Ball
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