WIFFLE Ball inducted into Toy Hall of Fame

Third generation owners of WIFFLE Ball Stephen A. and David J. Mullany said after learning that the toy their grandfather invented had been inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame, they headed right back to work to produce more to be shipped out to customers all over the world. –Aaron Berkowitz photo

The second time was the charm and now Shelton residents can officially say their city is the home of a Hall of Fame Toy.

Over the course of the past 64 years, millions of people all over the world have played with a toy that was created by a family that spent most of their lives right here in Shelton.

After being named a runner up back in 2015, the WIFFLE Ball, was announced as one of three toys to be inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. This latest class of inductees also included the board game Clue and the paper airplane.
Third generation owners of the business located at 275 Bridgeport Avenue, Stephen A. and David J. Mullany said the achievement evoked feelings of joy for their family.

“I’m more satisfied to see my father get the chance to witness this milestone. It makes me wish my grandfather could see this because this is something that he was around for since the very start,” said Stephen.

According to David, he and his father attended the awards ceremony in New York earlier this month where the three latest toys inducted were honored.

“Our dad is a low key guy but really enjoyed seeing his product be alongside all of the other great toys that had been inducted in the past two decades since the inaugural group of toys were in 1998,” said David. “It’s been a lot of fun and my dad seemed very satisfied and proud.

“When all of this Hall of Fame talk began a few years back one of the most impressive things we noticed was the support we received from people in the Valley,” said David.

According to both brothers, they’ve seen and heard from classmates they attended grammar school with about their family achievement.

History of the game

Although the first Wiffle Ball was developed in Fairfield and sold in New Haven’s Three Judges restaurant, which has since closed, millions of the balls have been produced right on Bridgeport Avenue since 1959, when the company moved to Shelton.

David and Stephen’s grandfather, David N. Mullany, designed the world’s first Wiffle Ball back in 1953 as a result of his son, David J. Mullany, breaking too many windows and having elbow pain from throwing curveballs with a golf ball.

With ongoing pain in David J’s throwing arm and rarely enough players to play a game of baseball, David N. sent him out to try multiple ball designs to compare which was best. They both agreed that the ball with eight oblong perforations worked best.

To this date, the two brothers and their father don’t understand why the design of the ball works, but “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

Decades after their grandfather created the WIFFLE Ball so many people still play with today, both David and Stephen said their dad now plays the game with their children.

“You can catch him outside with his grandkids on holidays or when the weather’s nice throwing some pitches,” said David. “They all really enjoy it.”

Just days after receiving the news of the toy’s milestone, David and Stephen said it was time to get back to work.

“We’re going to keep showing up everyday and creating more of the same high quality product that we have been, for the people that enjoy playing the game,” said Dave. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Between late December and July is when the bulk of the business’s shipping will take place, according to Stephen.

“Everything is in the store for spring and summer. Millions of balls and bats are and will be shipped,” said David.

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