Craig Kimball was a little disappointed when his teenage son told him the highlight of a recent summer trip the two took to Maine was a cousin’s Wiffle ball tournament.
Kimball said he thought the outings he carefully planned to Bar Harbor and other sites in Maine should have made at least as great an impression.
But then he got an idea.
When Kimball and his son, Keith, returned home to Fairfield, they did a little research and discovered the Wiffle ball was invented in Fairfield in 1953.
“Once I decided to register a tournament with the Wiffle company, I corresponded through emails with David J. Mullany, owner of Wiffle Ball Inc. in Shelton,” Kimball said.
A kitchen table invention
“David told me his father and grandfather designed the Wiffle ball at the kitchen table of their home on Edge Hill Road here in Fairfield,” Kimball said.
“That’s when the bulb went off — what would be better than to bring Wiffle Ball back home where it all started, especially on [the town of Fairfield’s] 375th anniversary?” he said.
The Wiffle Ball Inc. is located at 275 Bridgeport Ave. in Shelton.
“We have always tried to produce the highest quality product at an affordable price, all right here in the USA,” David J. and Stephen A. Mullany write on the company’s website, www.wiffle.com.
How the Wiffle ball was invented
According to the company’s website, David and Stephen’s grandfather was watching his 12-year-old son (who is David and Stephen’s father) play a game in their backyard using a perforated plastic golf ball and a broomstick handle.
The son’s arm felt “like jelly” from trying to throw curveballs with the golf ball, so “Gramp” picked up some ball-shaped plastic parts from a nearby factory, cut various designs into them, and had his son test them.
“They both agreed that the ball with eight oblong perforations worked best,” says the website. “That’s how the Wiffle perforated plastic ball was invented. To this day, we don’t know exactly why it works… it just does!”
The brand name was based on the expression of calling a strike-out a “wiff.” Learn more about the company and its beginnings at www.wiffle.com.
Charity game in Fairfield
In Fairfield, Kimball quickly organized a preliminary Wiffle ball tournament to take place Sept. 27 at the Roger Ludlowe Middle School field. He was assisted by Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau and Sue Kiraly from that town’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Competing were teams made up of Fairfield police officers, firefighters, and Town Hall and public works employees, all playing to benefit the Fairfield fire and police benevolent funds. To learn more about the event, go to fairfieldwiffle.com.