More than 30 years ago, Jim Bottorff and one of his friends had the idea to organize a Wiffle ball tournament in Mishawaka, Ind. Over time, the competition grew into the World Wiffle Ball Championship that attracted more than 55 teams in 2010.
So when Bottorff moved to the North Shore and started working as the Skokie Park District’s spokesman, naturally Wiffle ball would follow.
In previous years, the World Wiffle Ball Championship was held in Mishawaka, Ind. for 33 years – until earlier this week. While the Skokie Park District held a feeder tournament – The National Wiffle Ball Championship, from 2008-2012, the main event was always in Indiana.
Now, the old Indiana tournament will replace the old Skokie tourney and have many more teams coming from all over the country, many of which used to play in Indiana. It’s a much bigger and well-known tournament.
“Many options were explored, including several plans that would have kept the event in Indiana,” Bottorff said. “But ultimately, this deal made the most sense for keeping the tournament alive and healthy.”
The not-for-profit tournament features five-person teams playing with perforated plastic Wiffle balls, on miniature ball fields with six-foot home run fences. Over the years, the open event - which grew up in the shadow of Notre Dame's famed golden dome - has been featured in ESPN The Magazine, Men’s Health, USA Today, on Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC-TV, and in the book “101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out.”
The tournament has hosted thousands of teams over four decades, including regional stops in Baltimore, Los Angele, Oregon and Barcelona, Spain.
The 34th Annual World Wiffle Ball Championship will be played on 12 fields at Skokie’s Channelside Park on June 29 and 30. Teams of men and women, 10-years-old and older are guaranteed four games in a round-robin format, with division winners advancing to a single-elimination playoff.
To enter the tournament, go to the district's World Wiffle®Ball Championship web page