by Kirby Lindsay, posted 15 August 2012
Experience the pageantry! The pitches! The flippy-floppy fly of the ball as it plunks against the plastic bat! The first-ever Universe Classic Wiffle Ball Tournament will play ball in Fremont on September 8th & 9th – and only a few days remain for last-minute team registration!
Let your competitive nature show – or enjoy a day of play and fellowship – as wiffle ball comes to the upper playfields of B.F. Day Elementary School. Cheer on your team, and a great cause, with the tournament benefiting the B.F. Day Playground Improvement project.
Register Now To ‘Play Ball!’
The Fremont Chamber of Commerce, in the spirit of ‘build a wiffle field and they will come,’ is currently registering teams of 6 or more players (final deadline for registrations is August 21st,) for the Fremont community tournament.
However, the Universe Classic origins began at the Fremont site of Adobe Inc., and the cleverly creative thinking of Engineering Manager Frank Costa. “It’s very silo-d at the site,” he explained recently, as many ‘teams’ at Adobe on work on projects, within their departments. One day, in 2007, while sitting on the cafeteria terrace, Costa looked out at the Fremont Adobe courtyard and noted its resemblance to a baseball diamond.
Costa quickly organized the first summer wiffle ball league at Adobe, and had nine teams sign on. This year, the league involves 175 people (out of approximately 375 employees at the Fremont site) playing as 14 teams in games held every day at Noon and 4p. “Now, if I walk into a meeting room,” Costa said about Adobe Fremont, “already we have instant rapport.”
Play By The Rules
While played similar to baseball, a wiffle ball uses a plastic bat and ball specifically selected, Costas admitted, because play is less likely to cause injury or break windows. For play at Adobe, Costa developed a list of rules aimed to keep games fun and competitive, and to “avoid contention,” he explained.
“The defense determines the play,” Costa explained. The rules give a clear distinction – where the ball lands dictates a first-base, second-base, third-base, or home play. No running, no sliding, no bunting, and no stealing may make the game less physically challenging, but it also creates a game more accessible for involvement by the whole community.
Another rule is ‘reasonable speed’ for pitching, “but you always have the people that think they are Cy Young,” Costa reported. Yet, the rules help, he believes, as Adobe league participants can return, after the games, to work with their league competitors.
“People are going to come with their expectations,” he allowed, “we might get some contention, but it’s all about fun.” Particularly for the Universe Classic, Costa acknowledged, “it’s all about charity, and to try to keep the game going.” For those who want to dispute a hit or pitch or one of the rules, rather than playing and having fun, Costa warned, “Karma is a pain.”
For the Universe Classic, Fremont Chamber President Ken Saunderson chose to stick with most of the same rules – for many of the same reasons. Team captains must agree to abide by the rules to compete, and since the rules make an already fun game more family friendly, and competitive, Saunderson expects to see few problems.
“This is a fine way to involve our community in an epic athletic competition,” Saunderson said, “in an Olympic year.” The event will raise money for a playground to encourage more physical fitness for our children, while the Wiffle Ball Tournament provides an athletic outlet for Fremonsters of all ages.
Assemble A Team
Costa advised those assembling teams to, “get a pitcher. It gets really frustrating for the team in the field,” if the pitcher has to throw and throw and throw before delivering a pitch that the batter can hit. This is wiffle ball, Costa acknowledged, a game where, “luck meets preparation.”
Wiffle balls, “spin weirdly,” Costa agreed, and can be difficult to catch. Even after five years of play, “I drop the ball,” he admitted. Saunderson hopes to build up competition among the Universe Classic teams, but this could also be a great opportunity for spectators to hoot, holler and cheer a game every bit as wacky to watch as the Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving or lighting up Lenin.
Besides, wiffle ball isn’t always the focus of the game. At Adobe, Costa has used games as a ‘muse.’ “The wiffle ball is the inspiration,” he explained, “everybody has their interests, and I just tapped into that.”
Adobe league games – particularly during playoffs – include the national anthem, play-by-play, and color commentary. Through it all, they use technology, particularly Adobe products, in some new and interesting ways, to broadcast, engage participation by others, involve upper management, and to enhance the fun. This summer, the Premiere department will collect digital images and video taken by players and spectators of a single game, and compile them into a comprehensive replay of the action.
Come For the Pageantry Of The Play
For the first-ever Universe Classic Wiffle Ball Tournament in Fremont, the pageantry may be less than at Adobe, but this could be a ‘building year.’ On Sep. 8th, new B.F. Day Principal Katie Pearl will to throw out the first pitch, and volunteer umpires are being sought for a few games, particularly the playoffs on Sep. 9th. Saunderson hopes to recruit a well-voiced Fremonster (who knows the words,) or a duo or trio, to lead the National Anthem.
“We thought it would be a terrific opportunity for the Fremont business community,” Saunderson said. Fremont businesses can put together a team, or sponsor one. Teams – of 6 – 14 people (everyone must hit) – register for $250, with an additional $20 per team member over 6.
For those without a team, this year, climb up to the B.F. Day upper playfields on Saturday, September 8th at 8:30a for the opening ceremonies, and stay to watch the play – scheduled to last all day. On Sunday, September 9th, games begin after 9a, with playoffs tentatively scheduled to begin at 4p.
Cheer on the Fremonsters, and their athletic prowess, as the mighty plunk of the plastic bat resounds through the Center of the Universe!
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©2012 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.