The Wiffle ball, made of lightweight perforated plastic, was designed in 1953 to be used in backyards, city streets and even indoors in basements and playrooms. The perforations ensure that the ball doesn't travel far, allowing games to be played in much closer quarters than those required for baseball, softball or stickball. Base running and chasing long distances after the ball have been eliminated; as a result, the game emphasizes hitting and catching skills.
Equipment and Field Dimensions
The only equipment required is the Wiffle ball, a bat and possibly a piece of chalk for marking the field. The size of the playing field can be adjusted to fit available space. The Wiffle Ball Inc. website suggests a V-shaped field with home plate at the fulcrum of the V, and the single, double, triple and home runs zones arranged in rows that get progressively farther from the batter and progressively wider as their value increases.
The single zone should be 24 feet from home plate, with succeeding zones--double, triple, and home runs--located at 20-foot intervals. Ideally, the widest part of the V--the home run zone--is 20 feet wide, and the two strokes of the V that border it are 60 feet long.
Anything outside of the strokes of the V is foul territory. The University of Minnesota Extension recommends a 40-foot distance from pitcher to batter.
Wiffle ball can be played with as few as two players--pitcher and batter--or as many as 10, with five players to each team functioning as catcher, pitcher, double-area fielder, triple-area fielder and home run-area fielder. According to Major League Wiffleball, if teams have fewer than five players, a player can by common agreement be named a designated hitter and bat for both teams. Fielders cannot move from one area to another when a five-man team is playing.
The rules of play resemble those of baseball but, according to Wiffle Ball Inc., bases and runners are imaginary. A ball hit into the single area that is not caught constitutes a single, with the same principle applying to all areas. A team member hitting a single advances his imaginary runner to first base.
The imaginary runner advances one base on a single and two on a double, and he scores on a triple. A runner on second base scores on a single, double or triple. A runner on third base scores with any hit.
Some casual adult Wiffle ball leagues do use bases and runners; Major League Wiffleball offers a lighthearted, informal version of rules that allow base running.
Strikes and Outs
A batter strikes out in Wiffle ball if he swings at the pitched ball and doesn't foul tip it on the third strike. Under Major League Wiffleball rules, the strike zone must be 3 feet high and 1 1/2 feet wide.
The first two foul tips do count as strikes, however. Although a foul tip caught in the batter's box does not constitute an out, a fly ball caught in either fair or foul territory does.
A third way a batter can be out is to hit a ground ball that is caught while the ball is in motion in fair territory. Wiffle Ball Inc. says that bunting is not allowed and that a batter cannot be walked to a base because of balls.