The Windham Wiffle®-ball League is up and running
By Shawn French (Windham Independent, Nov. 10, 2004)
With football season over and several cold months before baseball starts up, Andrew Shute and company put together a new sports league. The Windham Wiffle®-Ball League is several games into its season and already the competition for the title is heating up.
There are six teams — each comprised of four high-school boys — that play in Shute’s impromptu backyard stadium on Page Road. It’s built like a regulation baseball field, just smaller. The baselines are painted and the outfield walls are constructed from pallets. The far right wall is a large boat covered with a blue tarp — it takes a truly exceptional hit to clear “The Blue Monster.”
Each team uses a pitcher, catcher and two fielders and they use traditional baseball rules with a few exceptions. There are no walks, although you can strike out. A runner can be tagged out or beaned out by hitting him with the ball. No leading or stealing is allowed and a game consists of seven three-out innings. And, of course, it’s played with a Wiffle® ball and plastic bat.
The early game in the Nov. 6 tripleheader featured the 3-1 Bio-Luminescence aka The Golden Boys against the 1-0 “Dirrtys.” Dorson Plourde of the 2-2 Surge team opened the day by belting out the national anthem on electric guitar.
Travis Giles aka “The Giles” took the mound for the Golden Boys and yielded nothing in the top of the first. He snagged the first popup himself and Andrew “Crazy Legs” McFarland ran down the other two. McFarland then got his team’s offense rolling, knocking the first pitch from Joe Hegarty through the right gap for a single. Peter “I need a nickname” Griffith advanced McFarland with a two-out single and McFarland blasted a double to score one. (If a player comes up to bat again while he’s still on base, a pinch runner is used.)
Steve Pierce then ended the inning with the defensive play of the day. Shute blasted a deep shot over the left-field wall, but Pierce went airborne, clearing the wall and making a diving catch to steal the homer.
After a scoreless second inning, the Dirrtys fired up their bats in the third. Scot Bonjour nailed a liner that rolled through a hole in the left-field wall for an automatic double; Pierce reached base with a bouncer to third; Hegarty loaded the bases with a shot up the middle; Bonjour scored two with his second through-the-wall double; and Eric Walton blasted his second homer of the season to score three and give the Dirrtys a 5-1 lead.
The Giles was yanked from the Golden Boys’ mound and Shute came in to relieve him and closed out the side.
The Golden Boys got one back in the bottom of the third when McFarland knocked a double into the centerfield wall and scored on a Griffith single down the left line.
The Dirrtys stretched the lead to 6-2 in the fourth. Pierce grounded to Shute and avoided the throw at his head for a single. Hegarty drove him in on a two-out grounder up the middle. Shute responded in the bottom of the inning with a homer over the left-field wall — his fourth of the season.
In the top of the fifth, the Dirrtys looked to put the game away. Walton and Pierce opened with singles, and Hegarty knocked one deep into right. The Giles had it lined up, but it got away from him and Walton scored on the play, increasing the lead to 7-3. Walton then drove one in with a single, and another Pierce single loaded the bases with one down. But Shute came up big for the Golden Boys, putting the whiff in Wiffle® by striking out consecutive batters to escape the inning.
The Giles blasted a low liner through Hegarty’s legs and used the ensuing scramble to take three bases. Griffith brought him home with a shot to right and three batters later, the team had the bases loaded with one out. But the Dirrtys made a defensive stand. McFarland was hit with the ball as he took off for home, and Pierce ran down a deep liner by McFarland to end the inning. With two innings to go, the Dirrtys led 8-4.
After a pair of McFarland grabs chalked up two quick outs, Shute was having trouble finding the plate and started hearing it from the fans. “Someone call the bullpen,” taunted Matt Sherburne from the bleachers (picnic table). Shute responded by putting some serious heat on his pitches, nearly forcing Walton to “call Pedro” on him. The Pedro rule states that if a pitcher is throwing the ball too hard, a batter or ump can call Pedro and that pitcher has to back up one step for the remainder of the game.
Shute escaped the inning “un-Pedro’d” and there was no offense in the bottom of the sixth or top of the seventh. Trailing 8-4, the Golden Boys had one last at-bat.
The Giles was the leadoff batter and, during the changeover, players were discussing his homer over the Blue Monster in an earlier game. Giles was the only player to accomplish this feat. The consensus was that it would be a good time for him to do it again. So he did. He absolutely unloaded on the ball and it was way, way gone, over the boat and out of the stadium for his third homer of the year.
Griffith reached first on a grounder, but was thrown out on a McFarland single. Shute blasted another shot over the left-field wall. But like earlier, Pierce went airborne, clearing the wall and pulling in the ball. It bounced free as he hit the ground and Shute was credited with the two-run homer to close the gap to 8-7. Hegarty got the hook and Pierce took over on the mound.
The Giles reached first on a dying shot down the left line and Griffith hit a grounder up the middle, setting up a meltdown of epic proportions by the Dirtty’s defense. What initially looked to be a game-ending double play went horribly wrong when the grounder was bobbled twice, and a bad throw sent the ball rolling away. It was quickly recovered and a second bad throw sent it towards the right-field wall. When the dust settled, Griffith was on third and The Giles had crossed home to even the score.
McFarland then hit a grounder to Pierce, who scooped it up and drilled it to Bonjour at the plate. As Griffith closed in on home, the ball reached Bonjour but popped loose. Griffith scored and the Golden Boys secured a 9-8 comeback win.
“We just caught onto Hegarty’s curveball,” Golden Boys’ player/coach Shute said after the game. “It was just a matter of time. We lit him up.”
“I just ran out of steam,” Hegarty said.
“I ran out of steam in the third inning,” Giles said about getting the early hook.
“After that, Steve came in, we made a couple errors. Game,” Hegarty said.
“The boat ball was great,” said Giles of his blast over the Blue Monster. “I gotta thank Joe Hegarty for giving me a fat pitch to hit. I owe it all to him.”
“Joe Hegarty would like to thank Travis Giles for doing it for the fans,” Hegarty said.
“That was for all the fans who’ve been with us and waited 86 years for the championship,” Giles said to the imaginary assembled crowd. “We’re bringing it home this year. And to my (imaginary) wife, I’m coming home, baby. I’m coming home.”