Action from the 2009 Summer Wiffle Classic. Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Reds.
We’ve been wanting to get a team into the Reds Summer Wiffle Classic for a while now, and this year we we finally got our act together. If you haven’t heard, the Summer Wiffle Classic is being held next weekend (Saturday, August 14th) when teams from around the region and beyond descend upon Mason Sports Park for a day Wiffleballin’. If your hip to the Wiff, make sure you register your team of 3-5 folks by August 10th. If you’re good enough, you might just get a shot at playing in front of the Redsfest crowd in December. Sounds killer.
In addition to the Wiffleball glory, all participants receive a t-shirt and a ticket to the Reds vs. Marlins game on August 15 at Great American Ball Park. Not a bad dealio.
Here’s a topline:
WHAT: The third annual Reds Community Fund Summer Wiffle® Classic
WHERE: Mason Sports Park (Map)
WHEN: Saturday, August 14, 2010 9am-5pm
WHY: Pfffft! Awesomeness.
REGISTRATION: Click here, yo
From the Reds Community Fund:
Don’t miss out! The third annual Reds Community Fund Summer Wiffle® Classic is back! This is the premier Wiffle® tournament in the Midwest. Teams from all over the region (and the country) will converge in Mason, Ohio to compete for a championship, while qualifying for the Redsfest tournament in December. Does YOUR team have what it takes? Only one way to find out – register today!
In getting the OMGreds team prepared for the tournament, we’ve gotten to know the Summer Wiffle Classic’s Director, Brian Blinn. He was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about himself, Wiffleball life, the Summer Wiffle Classic and what to expect.
OMG: Brian, tells us a little about yourself and your history with Wiffleball
Brian: I’m a 33 year old “kid”. Father of 2 adorable little girls. I am in sales for a Print/Marketing company (Curtis 1000) Grew up in San Diego and was lucky enough to move to Cincinnati TWICE in my life! (Moved here my senior year in high school – 1995 – and again right after I got married – 2004) Played college baseball and still carry a great passion for the game today.
Brian Blinn (left) and his Wiffleball cohorts
I have played Wiffleball since I was a little guy. My brother and I would play all summer in the front yard. I even have an ongoing game with a buddy who now lives in Denver…started when we were about 11 years old. I think I’m winning 374-311.
After college I was living in California and researching Wiffle tournaments when I found out what an underground world there was out there for “Wifflers” thanks to the internet! I ended up playing some Fast Pitch wiffle for a couple years until moving back to Cincinnati in 2004. I had played in various charity events around the country as well and was hooked. I knew in 2000 that I really wanted to put something together and raise some money for a great cause!
OMG: How has the sport gown since you’ve been playing?
Brian: Oh man…you wouldn’t believe it. Wiffle was a game you played in the yard as a kid. Now us “kids” are grown up and there are tournaments and leagues from coast to coast! The creation of the Internet (Thanks Dan Quayle!) has really helped this game BOOM! All of a sudden you had guys who might have been playing in neighboring cities but didn’t know each other, finding each other online and starting leagues.
OMG: Do you see Cincinnati as a serious Wiffleball town?
Brian: I do! There is a great number of people in town who Wiffle regularly. People always looking for tournaments and leagues to get into. Triple Creek Park out in Mt. Healthy area actually has 4 Wiffle fields out behind the softball complex! Not many people know that…but they are there! Used to have great leagues out there from what I hear. There was even an SI article written about it in the early 90’s.
OMG: How did the Reds Community Fund Summer Wiffle® Classic come to be?
Brian: Kind of funny…I was with a customer and overheard a couple employees talking about the Redsfest Wiffle tournament?! (2006) Of course I had to ask what they were talking about. They showed me the website and I called the number of the guy putting it on right there. They were only taking 10 teams and somehow I weaseled my way in. We ended up winning the thing and the guy who ran it asked if I would help him make it bigger and better the next year. Little did he know I had been planning my own for nearly 6 years at that point!
Of course I agreed and the Reds Summer Wiffle Classic was born. We’re headed into our 4th tournament this year! It’s really a fun event that raises money and awareness for a great cause! (Reds Community Fund) I really couldn’t have found a better group to work with on this. The folks at the Community Fund are unbelievably cool and helpful in every aspect I could ever ask for.
OMG: Teams are coming from all over the country to play in the Summer Wiffle Classic. Do folks take this pretty seriously?
2009 Summer Wiffle Classic. Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Reds
Brian: I tell people like this… some teams play all summer and this is their World Series…other guys just want to hit some plastic around for a few hours. Our tournament is set up for everyone to come out, have fun and compete at whatever level they want. But to answer the question…yes, winning at this event is taken seriously! Who wouldn’t want to win something put on by a Major League Baseball team? Not only are there some trophies and great prizes involved… but you get to be part of the KOI Autoparts Challenge on the scoreboard for winning this! (the day after our tourney)
OMG: Wiffleball rules differ from baseball in many ways. For the Summer Wiffle Classic first-timer, what rules would you point out?
Brian: First, I would like to distinguish that we are a SLOW pitch tournament. This isn’t fast pitch wiffle. A lot of people are curious and they google Wiffle and find guys throwing 100mph from 45’ and think “No way am I doing that!”… but that isn’t us. That’s people who have no regard for the wellbeing of their pitching arm!
Other rules I would point out…
- 3-5 players per team; only 3 people play the field at a time (but you can bat all 5)
- We DO run bases (50’)
- Only official Wiffle® bats and balls can be used (tournament provided)
- While we do restrict the speed of pitches, you can put any kind of curve, knuckle, drop/rise on the ball that you can muster up… but we just ask that you don’t use any snot on the balls. That’s just kind of gross.
For a complete list of rules (and to register) check out www.reds.com/summerwiffle.
OMG: There is a Summer Wiffle Classic Home Run Derby. Is it awesome?
Brian: Awesome indeed! You can actually win an individual trophy for being the HR champ. (isn’t it every kids dream to win a HR derby?) It is held on it’s own field. You can bring your own pitcher (just like the MLB All-star game). You get 10 outs for $5 and you can enter as many times as you like. Do you have what it takes?? I don’t. hahahahhaa
It’s going to be a long, hot day in Mason for the Wiffle Classic, any tips for players? What to bring, sunscreen, eye black, headbands and whatnot?
Brian: Great question. Here is a short list of “must haves”
- Change of shirt (or you can just buy an extra Tournament t-shirt…we’ll make you a deal!)
- Change of socks (sorry…we don’t have these)
- Vaseline (not for WIFFLE…balls….)
- Small tent or umbrella
- Did I say sunscreen already?
OMG: Shoes? Cleats? Bare feet?
Brian: Funny enough, we played in a tournament last weekend and two of us were in bare feet by the end of the day, our feet were so sore! Hahahaha…you can wear any of the above you mentioned, but no metal cleats. Only plastic.
OMG: Scuffing Wiffle balls – wha?
Brian: Looks like someone was doing their homework online! Impressive. Actually, we supply all the balls and they are brand new. The art of scuffing Wiffle balls is actually only beneficial in Fast Pitch wiffle. Kind of a crazy phenomenon. So please leave your sandpaper at home. Editor’s note: Video on Wiffle Ball scuffing techniques.
OMG: Alright, we’ve been trying to find some dang Wiffleball gear to practice with. It’s hard to find. We ended up picking up a yellow stick and some official Wiffle Balls at Koch’s Sporting Goods on 4th Street Downtown Cincinnati. Any other tips on where to get some Wiffle?
Brian: Good find! Koch’s carries them… and you can probably find them at Wal-Mart too. I’ve seen them at the Dick’s in Mason, but can’t speak for any other locations. Ebay is also a great place to find them for cheap (and in more bulk)
OMG: OMGreds is fielding a team this year, and we have no clue how bad we will be. If we are getting stomped, can we use the big red bat??
Brian: No…no big red bat. If I see it in your bag I might hit you over the head with it.
OMG: We’re going to have our own jerseys too, are we mega-dorks?
Brian: Not at all. I would say 99.5% of teams will have matching jerseys. Adds to the fun of the event. We actually had a team in year one that wore plaid flannel shirts with the arms cut off and cutoff jean shorts. They looked like Lumber Jacks. Probably my most favorite uniform to date.
The Backyard Ballers - Coordinated fellas, to say the least.
OMG: Might even do stirrups. Like, REAL stirrups, not just high-socks. Mega-tools?
Brian: I think we have one team that rocks the stirrups … but they are the fake sock kind. If you wear the REAL deal, I would be impressed.
OMG: Have you met any cool people through your Wiffle adventures?
Brian: I have actually. I’ve met CEOs of companies, I’ve met big league players, and just some outstanding people in general. Curtis Pride, who was the first deaf MLB player and I talk online every week. He is a big Wiffle guy actually! I’ve sparked a ton of friendships with people all over the country as well, just from talking Wiffle. Just amazing to me every time I think about it!
OMG: Any shout outs?
Brian: Would love to give a shout out to my wife Annie. She is BY FAR the coolest and most understanding wife in Cincinnati if not the country. I mean, she fully supports my Wiffle addiction.
Also want to shout out to the Mullany family in Shelton, Conn…for without them, there would be no such thing as Wiffle! (www.wiffle.com)
I’d like to send a shout out to Sam LeCure as well. Don’t know him, but seems like a great dude.