WHALLEY — As things come together for an event celebrating Whalley Little League’s 60th anniversary next month, plans are also drawn for a new facility at the association’s ballpark: a wiffleball diamond.
The throwback game, first popularized in the 1950s, employs lightweight plastic bats and balls, and it’s safe for kids to play without any adult supervision.
For Gavin Burke, that’s the whole point.
Kids today don’t get enough “free play” time that doesn’t require the involvement of coaches and parents, he said.
“Wiffleball allows for that,” said Burke, president of the baseball club since 2012.
“A lot of these diamonds are part of big ball parks across the U.S., where kids can go to play, and that’s what a lot of them they do – play wiffleball and they don’t watch the games. They play pickup games on their own.”
(Story continues below wiffleball how-to video)
The cost to build Whalley’s 60-by-60 diamond, which would include an eight-foot backstop, four-foot home-run fence, benches and padding atop all perimeter fences, is $10,000 or more, Burke said.
“We have a memorandum of understanding with the city to build it (in a central area of Whalley Athletic Park), and hopefully we can start that in the fall,” he said.
Some of the needed money will be raised during the “Sixty Years of Whalley Baseball” event, on Saturday, July 9, as a legacy project for the association.
“It’s free to attend, but donations will go toward the diamond, and we’ll do a 50/50 draw, prize board, some fundraising, too,” said Karen Gallagher, a planner of the anniversary event.
“If people want to donate, they can.”
The anniversary event will run from 1 to 7 p.m., with a beer garden, an alumni game, activities for kids, presentations and more.
A Facebook event page encourages people to register to attend the gathering and also submit their old baseball photos and documents.
CLICK HERE to be taken to the event page.
“The response has been pretty good so far, but the problem with a Facebook event page is that a lot of people get excited but don’t seem to commit (to attend), because the event is so far out,” Gallagher said.
“We have a Google doc that people can click on, a big spreadsheet we’re all following, to add their name, and we’re at about 150 people (attending), so far. I know a lot of people who say they’re coming but haven’t replied yet, so I have no idea what the final number will be, which is kind of a nightmare considering we’re ordering food and tables and doing a beer garden, all that, but we’ll figure it. It’ll all come together.”
It’s a big milestone for the association, she underlined.
“We’re trying to use all of our resources to try to find people to get them to come – anybody who’s been involved in the association.
“It’s kind of neat to see all the photos coming in on our Facebook page, and (team) rosters that go back to 1958. In those first two years they didn’t submit all the paperwork with kids’ names, but we have documents that go back that far.