Take me out to the Wiffle ball game!
There isn’t a ticket booth. You’re not going to find grandstands. No press box. Just a house and a yard.
So to quote the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”
Matt Brody can probably be described as the commissioner of Wilton Wiffle Ball. His brother, Conor, created it.
“It started three years ago,” Matt said. “My brother and I saw this thing on the Internet about a kid making a Wiffle ball field in his back yard. We thought ‘that’s genius.’ It wasn’t too expensive, and everyone pitched in.”
Generally consisting of games of five-on-five, in a league running from June to October, Wilton Wiffle Ball has built a reputation with multiple videos uploaded on YouTube.
“We’ve received over 7,000 views on YouTube,” Matt said. “Our Facebook group has 95 subscribers, half of which we don’t even know.”
Matt is a rising sophomore at Wilton High School. His brother, Kyle, is in sixth grade. It’s a family affair at the Brody household, as the three brothers hope to keep the league alive for years to come.
The cost is minimal to players. Some bring Wiffle balls to be used in the games. The league has added uniforms, and Matt can be found in a white shirt with double zero on the back, along with his last name.
“No one was wearing double zero,” he said.
The field, officially known as Wilton Wiffle Ball at Hillbrook Yards, is in the Brodys’ back yard. The dimensions go 76 deep in left field, 98 in dead center, and 76 in right field. It needs to be set up and broken down annually, with PVC pipes into the ground that are capped on top, and tying the fencing to the pipes. The whole process takes approximately two hours.
“It’s hard to hit home runs there,” Matt said. “We have Wilton varsity baseball players who play. They all can wing it, and that makes it so much harder, creating pitchers’ duels. It’s fun, but it’s hard.
The dimensions have changed slightly to make it more of a pitchers’ park.
“We pushed home plate back, then we pushed the fence back,” Matt added. “So now we can barely get the lawn mower through the yard. My dad’s not too happy about that. But he loves it. He’ll come out and join us.”
The league has a few sponsors, including a company called The Official Blitzball, which seeks to be a competitor to Wiffle ball. While they use the Blitzball on occasion, official Wiffle balls are used during the game.
“I want to get everyone down to the Wiffle ball factory one day,” said Matt, hoping for a tour of the offices and factory, located in Shelton. “I’ve emailed them, but got no response.”
The rules of Wilton Wiffle Ball aren’t completely different from baseball, but there are some quirks. Games last six innings, with three outs per side, though that can change depending on the number of players in attendance. While three strikes remain an out, six balls constitutes a walk. If a batter is hit by a pitch twice during their at-bat, he or she is awarded first base.
“We have a website with stats,” Matt added. It’s leaguelineup.com/WiltonWiffleBall. I can’t take much credit for it. My brother, who attends St. George’s School in Newport, R.I., created it. I carried on with it.”
The thing that Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan “Bud” Selig and other aficionados won’t want to hear is that, while Matt loves playing Wiffle ball, you won’t necessarily find him watching baseball games. He’s a lacrosse player, a goalie hoping to move up to the varsity squad at Wilton High School.
The Warriors just completed a victorious run to the state championship.
“Everyone’s pretty much a Yankees fan in this area,” said Matt, speaking words that won’t please Mets or Red Sox fans. “But I’m not one to sit down and watch baseball. I’m a lacrosse player.”
The season, which consists of about 20 games, and possibly playoffs, allows for many fun stories, and classic summer experiences.
“Last summer Peter Koch went into the woods to get a fly ball,” Matt said. “He hit a bees’ nest and they swarmed. Half of us jumped the fence. One kid falls over. Another goes in the house. We’re running down the street with bees after us. Peter got eight stings. We all laugh at it now.”
With Conor starting the league, Matt currently running it, and Kyle still to come, it appears Wilton Wiffle Ball is in good hands, allowing players to dream of magic moments, big defensive plays, and game-winning hits.