I played many sports as a kid growing up here in Rhode Island. In addition to organized baseball, basketball and soccer, I loved to play “backyard” games where a bunch of my friends from the area would join up and just have fun. And the backyard game that we played the most was Wiffle® Ball. I can still remember some of the epic contests between my friends, my cousins, my own brother involving a Wiffle® Ball game. And each memory makes me smile from ear to ear.
I recently connected with the team at Wiffle® Ball on Facebook, who then directed me to David Mullany. Mullany is part of the third generation of Mullanys to work/own Wiffle® Ball. Their product is manufactured and packaged 100% in the USA right in Shelton, CT. In fact, Mullany and Wiffle® Ball were invited to participate in the Made In America Showcase in Washington, DC representing the State of Connecticut. Read the press release for that special honor here – Made in America Press Release.
After sending an introductory email to David to introduce myself, I received a personal note back from David with an attached history of the Wiffle® Ball story. I was so honored that he took the time to return my message so quickly. The history of the company is a fascinating read and sheds some light on the spirit of entrepreneurship from founder David N. Mullany, David’s grandfather. Wiffle® Ball started in the 1950’s and has been popular with kids of all ages ever since.
Here are some interested tidbits from the Wiffle® history. Quoting the history of the company letter provided in an email from David, “Let’s start with some background on our grandfather, David N. Mullany, who started the company. He was born in Hatfield, MA in 1908 and grew up on a tobacco farm along the Connecticut River. David N. was always involved in sports, especially baseball, at which he excelled.” Also, David referring to a time when his grandfather was out of work and job searching, prior to starting Wiffle® Ball “It was summertime and every afternoon, upon returning from his job search, he would see our dad (he was about 12 at the time) and his neighborhood buddies playing a game in the backyard. It was, he was amazed to find out, the same game that they had been playing earlier in the day when he left “for work”. And here is David describing the early research done by his grandfather and father, experimenting with a plastic golf ball. “The games played with the practice golf ball were a success! They didn’t need any equipment other than the ball and a broom handle for a bat. As few as 2 players could have a very competitive game and best of all there were no broken windows, no dented siding and even better, no unhappy parents! There was one down side to the game. At the end of the day, David A. and his buddies ended up with sore arms from trying to throw a curveball with the little plastic golf ball. David N. remember – he was a semi pro pitcher – knew that firing curveballs all day wasn’t good for 12 year old arms.” And finally, how the name came to be. “But what to call the product? “Mullany ball” didn’t have much of a ring to it and gramp wasn’t an egomaniac. He was pretty low key and shied away from the spotlight and publicity. He talked some more with dad and asked what they called the game. Dad said one word “Wiffle”. The game played was a pitchers duel with lots of strikeouts. In dads’ neighborhood, when you took a swing and missed, you whiffed! So it was decided, they’d call the product a “WIFFLE” ball. (No “h” in “Wiffle” would mean one less letter they’d have to pay for on the sign). The name stuck and it’s our brand name and the federally registered trademark that we use today.“
The history letter is signed David J. and Stephen A. Mullany and includes even more incredible details on the making of an American treasure, the Wiffle® Ball. Personally, I have been playing Wiffle® Ball for most of my lifetime. I have pitched against fellow classmates, my cousins, my brother, and now my kids and their friends. Honestly, there is nothing quite like playing Wiffle® Ball on a warm summer night with a slight breeze out to right field. Whether you are an active baseball player or not, Wiffle® Ball is an awesome time for a family gathering, neighborhood party, or just some quality time with your son or daughter in the backyard.
You can find more information about Wiffle® Ball by going to their official website – www.wiffleball.com. On their website, you can learn about game rules, local distributors, as well as tournaments. Also, check out their “Nostalgia” page for a cool video featuring the New York Yankee’s Whitey Ford. How cool is that!!!
I want to sincerely thank David Mullany for taking the time to correspond with me about Wiffle® Ball and its storied history. I am eager to visit their offices in Shelton, CT this spring/summer and learn even more about this incredible Made in America product. A Wiffle® Ball will always be in my garage, in my backyard, and in my heart as one of the most enjoyable games I have ever played.