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Legendary Pub Park at O’Daly’s Irish Pub hosts two, 10-team Wiffle Ball leagues that play a 10-week season twice a year.
The founding of Wiffle Ball is truly an American success story. In the early 1950s, David Mullany saw his son and friends spend day after day playing a version of baseball with a “little, plastic golf ball and a broomstick.”
He began experimenting with different types of plastic balls before coming up with the classic Wiffle Ball, which has eight .75-inch oblong holes in one half of the sphere (to aid in throwing curves). Combined with the plastic yellow-colored bat, a new sport was born.
Mullany mortgaged his home and borrowed money from friends to start the company. The Connecticut firm now makes millions of balls each year. In 2017, Wiffle Ball was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.
The sport has fans all over the world, including the Alabama Gulf Coast. In 2013, O’Daly’s Irish Pub decided to host a Wiffle Ball tournament one Saturday in an open lot behind its building at 564 Dauphin St. in downtown Mobile.
“We were hoping to get 10 teams, but ended up with 14,” said Matt LeMond, who opened O’Daly’s in 2010. “We weren’t really prepared for the response. We had to cut the games to 20 minutes because we had no lights to play at night.”
It was such a major success that they decided to begin a weekly “Get Wiff It” league for 10 teams. They ended up getting temporary lighting that had to be cranked up each week, and permanent light posts were added for the second season.
Enthusiasm continued to grow, and the program was expanded to two 10-team leagues, with one group playing on Tuesday nights and the other teams on Wednesday nights. At the conclusion of the 10-week regular season, a single-elimination playoff tournament has the top six teams in two brackets. A best-of-three-games championship series wraps up the action.
“We thought it was a crazy idea, but it has really panned out,” LeMond said. “It has become quite a social experience. People will come after work to watch the games, even if they aren’t playing.”
The most recent season finished in July with the Sandlot Sluggers claiming top honors. LeMond said a few hundred fans turned out that Friday night to enjoy the games. Video of the action can be found at playgetwiffit.com, a website that lists the league schedules and standings.
Up to three seasons are played each year at what is now called Legendary Pub Park. The latest action got started last week.
“We had a countdown on our website as to when team captains could sign up,” LeMond said. “We had 18 register within the first hour, and the final two soon after.”
Tim Finnigan, who has a background in radio locally with WZEW and WNSP and in Miami, first joined the production a few seasons ago to serve as the announcer. He is now in charge of the social media coverage.
“Tim has added some great ideas,” LeMond said. “We now have a ‘game of the week’ where we highlight two teams. We pump in special walk-out music for the players. It is our version of College GameDay. Then on our YouTube channel we have ‘Wiff Talk’ that gives a recap of the games from each week.”
The recreational league is for men and women who are least 21 years old. The minimum number of players per team is five, and there must be at least one female on the field at all times.
“We have all kind of people in the league,” LeMond said. “Some might have played baseball or softball in high school or college. They all agree it is pretty unique to play at the bar.”
One particular player may draw a second look this season. Mobile native Jake Peavy, the former Cy Young Award winner and two-time World Series champion, is playing on Wednesday nights.
“He is just one of the guys,” LeMond said. “He told me he enjoys the atmosphere of the league.”
Along with Finnigan, LeMond also wanted to point out the contributions of Allen Williams and Josh Giraldo. “They are the core group,” LeMond said. “Without all of them, this would just be an idea.”
O’Daly’s is involved in other sports as well. It is the official league bar for the kickball teams that play at Sage Park. It also has had a dodgeball charity event at Legendary Pub Park, which also hosts live music concerts. But Wiffle Ball is something special.
“It is not just about the sport,” Finnigan said. “It’s really an experience with the crowd interaction. A lot of friends will come out just to be a part of the scene.”
• Local players with the Kid Tennis league traveled to Orlando to play in the American Tennis Association’s national tournament. All of the players are members of the Lyons Park Tennis Association.
Coach Lance Deleston said Linda Lang and Halei Kirksey played doubles in the Girls 18 division; Robyn Sanders played singles in the Girls 16; Danica Palmer played singles in the Girls 14; Paris Lang played singles in the Girls 14; Brianna Harden played singles in the Girls 18 division, while Imani Ivory and Brianna Harden played doubles in the Girls 18.
• The game of cornhole is quite simple. Players take turns tossing beanbags at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. What was once a backyard pastime has evolved into a nationwide sensation.
Port City Cornhole (PCC) is teaming with Serda Brewing Co. to produce a Mobile league. The league starts Sept. 11 and will run through Oct. 16. More information can be found at pccornhole.com.
“We have also been able to use our resources to work with other organizations and nonprofits like Dwell Mobile and provide tournaments and games for fundraisers,” said Josh Freeman, who works with David Carden at PCC. “With the rise in popularity the game of cornhole has become a great way to draw people in and raise money for various causes with little cost.”
Serda Brewing is located at 600 Government St. in downtown Mobile. Games will take place 7-8:30 p.m.