Backyard Ballgames

When I was a kid, I played a number of sports. Baseball. Football. Basketball. Tennis. A little track and field. The best game may have been Wiffle ball. Thin bat. Plastic ball. With the right amount of spin, you can make the ball dance in front of a batter. Bert Blyleven, eat your heart out. I’m sure hall of fame ballplayers played Wiffle ball as children (no empirical evidence here, just a gut check).

During the summer, we’d gather at the park and play for hours. I marveled at the older kids. They could hit the ball a country mile, crushing it across the street with ease (that was considered a home run). Trying any drill I could think up, I would spend hours trying to catch up. I’d throw a tennis ball against the garage. Swing-weighted bats. I was determined to beat the other guy. In life, really, we set a number of goals based on what our peers accomplish. We admire the Land Rover in the neighbor’s garage. Envy a teammate’s promotion. Become jealous of what our high school classmates went on to accomplish. 

I suppose this is fine, a testament to human nature. Eventually, I did become king of the Wiffle ball diamond. After it happened, the game lost its luster. So it went, until one day our team was beaten handily by a group of kids a few towns over. Dejected, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through all that effort again. Thinking back, it makes me ponder if, at times, I was playing the wrong game. Instead of fueling the envy monster, maybe, trying to improve would have been the better approach. Self-reflection and measurement is the better answer.


  • Well, this isn’t a typical yellow Wiffle ball bat. But I didn’t always practice with one either; one uses what they have at their disposal. Pictures are no different.
  • Yes, if you make solid contact the plastic ball will soar.