This week’s game is one straight out of my childhood: Wiffleball.

On an interesting note: because of the cheaper/more common swiss-cheese balls, a lot of people incorrectly assume these balls to be Wiffle balls.  However, a true Wiffle ball only  has elongated holes on one side and looks like this (bonus points for you if you knew this already):

The holes are on only one side of the true Wiffle ball in order to make curve-balls more extreme.  My father was the master of a rising pitch with this thing that I never learned how to hit.  Eventually I got pretty good at a wicked slider with this thing too.

The Wiffle Ball was designed in 1953 for two purposes.  First, the holes on one-side of the ball allows it to curve easily, making it great for throwing a wide variety of curve balls, which in turn makes it really fun to pitch with.  Second, using hallow plastic keeps the ball from flying very far or very hard, making it great for small spaces and urban environments where a true baseball would be dangerous/destructive.

In order to play Wiffleball you need at least two people, but 4+ work better.  You set up a field roughly like so:

That field should be about 20′ wide at the double line and about 60′ long to the home run line.  Thereabouts, anyway.  Our field had foul lines from the batter to the big tree and door of the house, a single was hitting it past the pitcher, double was hitting it past my sister’s bedroom window, triple was past the end of the house, and the forest was the home run line.

You divide your group into two equal teams.  The team on defense generally just has the pitcher, but when we played we also put outfielders in the triple area.  The offense team takes turns batting as you would in baseball.  For every hit you advance imaginary runners around the bases.  Runners proceed exactly as they would in a standard baseball game.  The batter and first base runner move 1, 2, or 3 bases depending on a single, double or triple respectively.  The second and third base runners score on any fair hit.

Baseball strikes/outs rules apply.  In the typical game, outs are given for strike-outs while swinging, fair catches, and intercepting a ball on the ground that is still in motion.

In my youth we had some additional rules that made things more interesting.  First and foremost, my father built a strike-zone out of plywood by cutting a hole in it and then attaching some fabric to the hole to catch the ball.  This let us somewhat fairly determine strikes and balls so we could use plate scoring that was much closer to regulation baseball.  I say ‘somewhat’ because as we got better with the Wiffle ball we realized that we could curve it around the actual strike-zone and still get it into the hole.  However, this did greatly increase the chances of a ball, so we kept the strike-zone.

Since we almost always had 1 or 2 outfielders, we changed the grounding-out rules so that instead of an immediate out, fielding a ground-ball just decreased the hit by one base.  A single became an out, a double became a single, and so forth.

I have fond memories of playing our Wiffleball variant every summer when my aunt, uncle, and cousins came to visit for a few weeks.  Sometimes we’d even get Lyle to play too, which was awesome because it evened up the teams to 3 vs 3.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

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