The Wiffle®Ball Championship has always occupied a unique spot in the sport's competitive landscape. The tournament, and subsequently the Old Republic Wiffle®Ball League (ORWBL), grew from pickup games at played at The Palace of Bourissa Hills and in backyards across New Carlisle.
At the time Hometown Days was established in 2005, the Mishawaka tournament was undergoing a transition period. After two years as a 16-team invitational, the tournament was handed over to the Children's Campus to run as a charity fundraiser. This contributed to our admitted ignorance in starting a tournament held the very same weekend as Mishawaka. Had we been aware of it, it's entirely possible The Wiffle®Ball Championship and ORWBL wouldn't even exist today.
Because of this history, The Championship has always had its own set of rules. Starting with the same basic concept of the game, we adopted a few rules from Mishawaka (foul ball home runs being the most notable) early on to appeal to those teams. However, we have always been independent.
Considering the big picture of wiffleball, there really aren't many differences between our rules and the other tournaments in Northern Indiana and the Chicagoland area. Of all those differences, we believe we can make a convincing case for why our tournament does things our way.
Well, all but one of those differences... and that's the bat rule.
Prior to the 2013 ORWBL season, a debate took place among the managers of the league regarding which bats should be legal. Up until that point, all plastic, official, yellow WIFFLE branded bats were in play. This included several generations of bat models.
All the bats are the same size, however various differences can be spotted upon a closer look. From the end of the bat (flat-top or rounded), locations of the holes, logo on the barrel, and the grips, the models vary based on what year they were made.
The controversy arose when some players claimed the vintage bats were made of higher quality plastic than the current models available for retail purchase. Because the vintage bats are more difficult to acquire, the argument was that those bats provided an unfair advantage to teams who have them.
A slim majority of ORWBL managers voted to ban vintage bats from league play beginning in 2013. As a result, The Championship followed suit for consistency.
In the six years that have followed, there has been no evidence that the vintage bats provide a distinct advantage. The same crop of teams that has risen to the top at Hometown Days are the same teams that dominate the other tournaments. In short: if you can hit, you can hit.
Additionally, the bat rule was intended to eliminate confusion and arguments. Unfortunately, it has done just the opposite. It has unintentionally blurred the line between willfully cheating by altering a bat and simply using an older model.
So beginning in 2019, The Wiffle®Ball Championship will be returning to its pre-2013 rule on bats: all plastic, yellow, official WIFFLE bats will be permitted. Tape or other approved bat grips will be allowed on the handle only. The hole on the knob of the bat must remain uncovered. Additionally, no other material or substance can be added to the bat to increase its weight.