A Wiffle bat and ball

Wiffle ball is a scaled back variation of baseball that was developed in 1953 in Fairfield, Connecticut. Originally, it was intended to be played in confined space or otherwise small area, but became a popular outdoor activity.[1] The sport is played using a perforated light-weight plastic ball and a long hollow plastic bat. Two teams of one to five players each attempt to advance imaginary runners to home plate, and score, based on where each batter places the ball on the field. The term Wiffle ball may refer to the sport as a whole, or the ball used in the sport. Wiffle is a registered trademark of Wiffle Ball, Inc. and was derived from the slang word whiff meaning to strike out.[1]


Miniature versions of baseball have been played for decades, including stickball, improvised by children, using everything from rolled up socks to tennis balls. The ball most commonly used in the game was invented by David N. Mullany at his home in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1953[2] 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". The Wiffle Ball is about the same size as a regulation baseball, but is hollow, lightweight, of resilient plastic, and no more than 18 inch (3.2 mm) thick. One half is perforated with eight .75-inch (19 mm) oblong holes; the other half is non-perforated. This construction allows pitchers to throw curveballs and risers.[citation needed]

In April 2011, the Health Department of the State of New York included wiffle ball on a list of recreational activities that present a "significant risk of injury" to children. Under a state law passed in 2009, any program for children that included two or more such activities would be defined as a “summer camp” subject to government regulation.[3] The story became a frequent source of ridicule and amusement, with Parenting.com sarcastically commenting, "According to new legislation introduced in New York State, to survive classic schoolyard games like capture the flag is to cheat death."[4] Wiffle Ball executives originally thought the order was a joke, because the company has never been sued over any safety issues in its 50+ year history.[5] The disapproval of people from across the nation pressured the New York legislature to remove wiffle ball and other items such as archery and scuba diving from the list of risky activities.[6]


Wiffle ball being played in a park
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Wiffle ball is a simplified version of the game of baseball that is designed to be a miniature version of the game that is suitable to be played both indoor and outdoors, often in confined spaces. Because of this, the rules of wiffle ball are very alike to baseball. A single game of wiffle ball consists of 6 innings or 60 minutes, whichever is earlier.[7][8][9]

A playing field is not necessary, but if a field is marked, it is shaped like an isosceles triangle. The batter stands at the top of the triangle looking down the two equal sides that are about 60 feet in length. A ball hit about thirty feet counts as a "single" and a ball hit about 45 feet counts as a "double." When a ball is hit outside of the sides of the triangle, it counts as a foul ball. The line across the bottom of the triangle is about twenty feet in length, and a ball hit across this line counts as a "home run." Scoring of this game is similar to scoring in baseball as are the terms used, i.e., "single," "double," "foul ball" and "home run." However, there is no running around bases for the batter(s), and there is no chasing the ball for the pitcher and fielders.[8]

The objective for each team in Wiffle ball is to score more runs than their opponent, thus winning the game. Once both teams have completed their agreed number of innings (usually six) or time limit has been reached, the team with the highest number of runs will be declared the winner. Should the number of runs be the same at the end of the game then the game is drawn. Some Wiffle ball leagues allow tied games and the points are shared equally by the two teams whereas others will insist on one more innings each, with the highest score being declared the winner. Another version of the game, called wiffle-beer, has become increasingly popular among college students. All regular wiffle ball rules apply, with the main difference being each player must hold a can of beer while batting and while in the outfield, with the runner needing to finish the beer before reaching home plate or the run does not count. Wiffle-beer is usually played 18 innings instead of the traditional 9 innings.[10]

A wiffle ball, showing the perforated half.


Wiffle ball tournaments have been held in the United States and Europe since 1977. That year, Rick Ferroli began holding tournaments in his backyard tribute to Fenway Park in Hanover, Massachusetts.[11] In 1980, the World Wiffle Ball Championship was established in Mishawaka, Indiana by Jim Bottorff and Larry Grau. With the explosion of the Internet in the 1990s, there are now hundreds of Wiffle ball tournaments played in the United States, most in the same place every year, with a few tournament "circuits". The World Wiffle Ball Championship remains the oldest tournament in the nation, having moved to the Chicago suburbs in 2013, after introducing regional stops over three decades in Baltimore; Los Angeles; Indianapolis; Eugene, Oregon; and Barcelona, Spain.[12] The tournament is featured at #27 in the book, "101 Baseball Places to Visit Before You Strike Out."[13]

The NWLA (National Wiffle League Association) tournament is held in various Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic locations, which change on an annual basis. The tournament crowns a champion from a field of all-star teams from leagues across the country. [14]

Several organizations such as FastPlastic and Golden Stick have hosted universally recognized National Championships in the past. Currently, United Wiffle is the governing body for the tournament, as its inception took place in 2020 in York, Pennsylvania. The Usual Suspects were crowned champion, as the squad captained by Danny Lanigan defeated Black Dog Country Club 5-3 in the championship game. The scope of the tournament has since expanded to meet the criteria of a World Championship Tournament, with teams from Japan and Canada having competed in recent years. [15]


There are many competitive wiffle ball leagues in the United States, including Major League Wiffle Ball (MLW) at the forefront. There have throughout history been other wiffleball leagues, current ones include AWA Wiffle Ball, the most viewed wiffleball league, and other leagues considered “Minor League Wiffleball” such as Bay City Wiffle Ball, WR Wiffle Ball, Northville Wiffle League, NWA Wiffle Ball, and Mid-Atlantic Wiffle.

The most popular and followed Wiffle Ball league as of 2024, is MLW Wiffle Ball. MLW was established by Kyle Schultz in Brighton, Michigan in 2009. The league consists of eight teams, which are the Eastern Eagles, Western Wildcats, Coastal Cobras, Midwest Mallards, Great Lakes Gators, Pacific Predators, Metro Magic, and Downtown Diamondbacks.

MLW has a strong following on social media, uploads highlights of all of their games to YouTube, and has also hosted open public tournaments in 8 different states (Michigan, Ohio, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania).[16] The league gained significant notoriety throughout its 2020 season, after several other professional sports were postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league has been featured by TBS, The Athletic,[17] Whistle Sports, and twice been highlighted on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 Plays. They also have played games in states other than Michigan, like the Oklahoma Series, and they have also played in Fifth Third Field, home of the Toledo Mud Hens, a field of where Tiger Stadium used to be; in that same Detroit series, they were scheduled to play Game 3 of the series in Comerica Park, however, due to air quality postponements of Detroit Tigers games from the 2023 Canadian wildfires when they were playing the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia, the game was not played there, and instead played at Wayne State University. MLW has also played at a wiffle ball field at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, home of the Phillies. In 2022, MLW played at SoFi Stadium in LA, home of the NFL’s LA Rams and LA Chargers, for the 2022 World Series, where the Diamondbacks swept the Cobras in 3 to win their second straight title. That event was without fans unlike the 2023 World Series, which was held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and the MLS Atlanta United. In that series, the Magic came back from a 2-0 deficit in the series to win their first World Series title over the Eagles. The most recent champions are the Metro Magic, managed by Jack Aigner.[18][19][20][21]

The name has also been associated with a small league in the southwestern Illinois city of Granite City,[22] which has come to be a hub of the sport with the Lakeside Kings having won multiple world championships in the Wiffle Ball National Championship Series. The League's inaugural national championship was held in October 2001 in Granite City,[23] whose wiffle only stadium[24] has long been known for its similarity to Fenway Park and Busch Stadium.[25] The national championship was launched following a decade long increase in interest in the sport,[26] among fans and players of all ages.[27]

As of 2015, there was also a sixty player league in Havre de Grace, Maryland, which featured former NBA player Gary Neal.[28]

In 2013, the Greater Cincinnati Wiffleball League was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio. The GCWL season runs from May through October. Averaging 10 teams and over 50 players each season, it is recognized as one of the premier wiffleball leagues in the United States.


Some wiffle ball players 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.[29] But not all wiffle ball fields have been modeled from major league ball parks. Some have created original fields, Strawberry Field in Encino, California being the most exquisite. Rick Messina spent over $700,000 constructing Strawberry Field, which features lights for night games, bleachers, and a press box.[30] He also converted a neighboring house into a clubhouse/pub.[31]

Building fields can lead to controversy and legal issues. In 2008, The New York Times published an article about Greenwich, Connecticut teenagers who were forced by the city to tear down a wiffle ball field they had built because of neighbor complaints.[32]

In popular culture

In 1965 a wiffle ball was initially used when developing the sport of pickleball, but it was eventually replaced with a more durable ball.[33]

In his 2003 book The Complete Far Side, cartoonist Gary Larson reproduces a letter he received after including a "wiffle swatter" 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."[34][35] In 2009, video game developer Skyworks Technologies released a game based on Wiffle ball, simply titled Wiffle Ball.[36]

In science, it is frequently used by marine biologists as a size reference in photos to measure corals and other objects.[37][38]


  1. ^ a b "The Wiffle Ball, Inc. - A Brief History". www.wiffle.com.
  2. ^ "What's 50, Curvy And Full of Air?; It's the Wiffle Ball, Still Popular, Holes and All". The New York Times. August 14, 2003. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  3. ^ Blain, Glenn (April 19, 2011). "Classic kids games like kickball deemed "unsafe" by state in effort to increase summer camp regulation – New York Daily News". Articles.nydailynews.com. Archived from the original on December 24, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  4. ^ "Playground Games Deemed Unsafe for Kids". Parenting.com. April 20, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
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  14. ^ "Official Site of the NWLA Tournament". NWLA Tournament. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  15. ^ "United Wiffleball". United Wiffleball. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  16. ^ "MLW Wiffle Ball - (Brighton, MI) - powered by LeagueLineup.com". www.leaguelineup.com. Retrieved 2022-09-27.
  17. ^ Nesbitt, Stephen J. "MLW Wiffle Ball started as a neighborhood league among friends. Now it's a burgeoning business". The Athletic. Retrieved 2022-09-27.
  18. ^ MLW Wiffle Ball - (Brighton, MI) - powered by LeagueLineup.com
  19. ^ "How the DN sports staff is handling life without sports". The Daily Nebraskan. March 20, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
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  26. ^ Peterson, Anne (August 1, 1991). "To Aficianados, Wiffle Ball is Serious Sport". Akron Beakon-Journal. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  27. ^ "Wiffle Ball Association Turns Kid's Sport into Adult Mania". St. Louis Post-Dispatcher. August 11, 1991. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  28. ^ McRoberts, Randy (May 21, 2015). "Havre de Grace Major League Wiffle league opens season with visit from NBA's Gary Neal". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  29. ^ "Official Site of the Little Fenway Wiffle Ball Field Located in Jericho, VT". Little Fenway. Archived from the original on February 2, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  30. ^ "Wiffle Ball Hits Home – Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. October 11, 2000. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  31. ^ Wiffle Ball: The Ultimate Guide by Michael Hermann, pages 107–110
  32. ^ Peter Applebome (July 10, 2008). "Our Towns – Build a Wiffle Ball Field and Lawyers Will Come". The New York Times. Greenwich, Connecticut. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  33. ^ Lucore, Jennifer; Youngren, Beverly (2018). History of pickleball : more than 50 years of fun! (First ed.). Oceanside, CA: Two Picklers Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-7320705-0-9.
  34. ^ "How the Wiffle Ball Came to Be".
  35. ^ Larson, Gary (2003). The Complete Far Side. Vol. 2. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 71. ISBN 0-7407-2113-5.
  36. ^ Bedigian, Louis (April 30, 2007). "Wiffle Ball Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on August 18, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  37. ^ "Live Webcams: Scientists Studying Corals Damaged by Oil in the Gulf of Mexico". Penn State Science. 25 June 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  38. ^ "PHOTOS & VIDEO". Nautilus Live. Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2015.