Whiff! Wiffle Ball Cup Tournament is an exemplar of Public Lore and Play in our Parks
Play is as ancient as time. It is a necessary element of our socialism and interwoven into our daily lives. We engage in informal playful banter: playing jokes, playing upon one another, playing both ends against the middle, playing second fiddle, playing your cards well, playing fair, playing by the rules. Our play easily moves from words to action. Our public parks and town streets are virtual playgrounds. We are rolling from summer into a fall full of play through festivals, exhibitions, performances, and tournaments hosted in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties.
St. Anthony’s Italian Festival will be held in Glassboro on September 16. Dolls of Distinction Exhibition is at Smithville Park in Eastampton through September 17. The Camden County Fair is in Blackwood, NJ September 23 and 24. Here at Perkins Center for the Arts, we are ready to “play ball.”
The Annual Wiffle Ball Cup Tournament in its 5th year, makes its home base at the public arboretum in Moorestown. The September 9th Tournament is a great exemplar of utilizing public grounds for play. On the evergreen lawn 24 teams engage in the power of play for the coveted Wiffle Ball Trophies designed by artists from Perkins Center for the Arts Pottery Studio.
Wiffle Ball was first conceived in 1953 in Fairfiled, Connecticut when David Mullaney was watching his son play a version of stick ball with a broom handle and a perforated plastic golf ball. His grandson and friend had given up on baseball because there were not enough team members or open fields and much too many broken windows. But the inefficiency of the golf ball and stick, made the 12-year old’s arm feel like jelly. Mullaney designed a ball that was easy to curve but hard to hit. When someone struck out, you would hear, “Wiff!” Thus, was born Wiffle Ball. The game was designed to play in congested areas, like urban streets and back yards. Wiffle Ball Tournaments have been played in the U.S. and Europe since 1977.
At the Perkins Arboretum, it starts when 2 teams of 5 step to the field for the challenge in four locations on the park grounds. The tournament begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 5:00. The teams are diverse and range in ages. For the first time last year, one finalist team consisted of some mighty proud pre-teens. The grounds become a play yard full of festivities and public lore with a bounce house, arts and crafts and face painting for youth. The activities continue after crowning the winners and the evening opens to the game of corn hole.