A move for the World Championship
A new-look National invitational &
New tournament directors
Hi all Wifflers!
Please excuse this long post, but we have several really big and exciting announcements for you, including a set date for the 39th Annual World Wiffle® Ball Championship.
A New Home
As you probably know, Channelside Park in Skokie, Illinois, was packed to the rafters in 2017, with organizers forced to create a first-ever team waiting list. Because that simply won’t fly, we have spent the past several months scouting Chicagoland for a larger venue, one that can handle every current team –– and all of the growth that we expect in years to come.
With that said, please take a look at the new home of the World Wiffle® Ball Championship for 2018 and beyond –– Memorial Park in Midlothian, Illinois.
Memorial Park is a six-ballfield complex in Chicago’s southwest suburbs, right off of Interstate 294. This outstanding Midlothian Park District venue has a long, storied amateur and semi-pro baseball history, once hosting the National Champion Midlothian White Sox. In addition to its legendary 1955 baseball field, the park features five softball fields, built in 2013. With space for 30+ fields (making us once again the world’s largest Wiffle® Ball complex), and arranged around a concession hub that serves food, drinks and adult beverages, this modern complex is perfect for our growing tournament.
The park also offers a major location upgrade. Conveniently situated on the main artery between Wisconsin and Indiana, Memorial Park is 30 minutes from O’Hare Airport, 30 minutes from Downtown Chicago, 18 minutes to the Indiana state line, and much closer to the tournament’s original base in South Bend (less than 90 minutes).
It is my belief that we simply could not have found a better place to move heading into our fifth decade of the World Wiffle® Ball Championship.
World Championship Dates
The 39th Annual World Wiffle® Ball Championship will be held at Memorial Park, in Midlothian, Illinois on July 14-15, 2018. This one-division tournament, as always, is open to any and all participants, regardless of experience, age (10+), or gender.
With a somewhat heavy heart, I am announcing, as of today, my final retirement as the director of the World Wiffle® Ball Championship. I have run this tournament on-and-off for nearly four decades, but it is now time for me to move on to family vacation planning, eventual grandparenting, and getting into better shape as a player. That’s right, my family and I will continue to attend, enjoy and play in this tournament.
After several years of contemplating this change, I believe that the tournament is very lucky to have three experienced wifflers fully ready to take the reins, having played together in this event since the mid-1990s.
Nate Hansen, Mike Baniak and John Premetz are smart, bold, and innovative, and most importantly, they understand everything that makes this tournament special.
They have excelled as competitors –– you may know them best as hall-of-famers and members of the four-time world champions, Club Ripped –– but they also come from the ‘Scott Ermeti-Mark Waumans School of Quirk.’
For those of you who never met Scott or Mark, co-directors of the tournament for 30 years, they understood that this tournament was about fun, and they always pushed their fellow directors (friends Larry Grau, Perry Baert and me) –– to run a tournament that injected off-the-wall, creative, and sometimes outlandish twists, into an already-fun and competitive bat-and-ball tournament.
Yes, Nate, Mike and John “get it,” and like the tournament’s five original directors, they are childhood friends.
A New ‘National’ Championship Invitational for Skokie
The “National Wiffle® Ball Championship” will return to Channelside Park after a six-year absence, on June 23, 2018.
This one-day event will feature a smaller, 20-team invitational tournament, first inviting only the current ‘Super 20 Wiffle® Ball Teams on the Planet Earth,’ then, one day later, opening up any remaining spots, on a first-come-first-serve basis, to all teams that have played in recent World Championship tournaments. These invitations will be sent by email from the tournament’s new director, Bob DeLeonardis, on February 19 and 20, 2018, and will offer the only access to tournament entry.
Bob is a veteran tournament player, and is the Skokie Park District athletic director. He also happens to be the oldest player to homer in a World Wiffle® Ball Championship event. So Bob gets it, too.
Teams playing in this National Championship event will not only get in a great warm up three weeks before the World Championship –– but the tournament winner will also score a free entry into the oldest, biggest and baddest Wiffle® Ball tournament on the planet, July 14-15.
Register now for the World Championship
Your new World Wiffle® Ball Championship directors will be contacting you soon, with more information about this year’s tournament. In the meantime, you may register for the tournament right here, right now.
So that’s it. A big move, a new-look national invitational, and new tournament directors.
Thanks for giving me 38 years of incredible memories, my friends. You are all truly like family to me.
See you in Midlothian on July 14!
~ Jim Bottorff
World Wiffle® Ball Championship