Wiffle ball draws the nation's best in backyard sport

This kid’s game is a unique take of balancing baseball and basic skill, but adults here in Minnesota are making wiffle ball a serious sport.

The National Wiffle League Association made a stop in Eagan this weekend, the site of one of four regionals around the country that leads into a national championship for wiffle ball teams.

“This is a serious as it gets,” said Minnesota-based wiffle ball player Erik Ganeles. “We have guys that can throw close to 90 mph.”

The NWLA may seem like a silly spin-off of the “Great American Past Time,” but the time dedicated by these backyard athletes is no joke.

“We drove eight hours to get here,” said Sam Skibbe.

Skibbe and his team from St. Louis drove to the Twin Cities area to participate in the tournament, but their trip is nothing compared to the travel of other teams.

“We had a team from Seattle fly all the way to New York for a regional,” Skibbe said. “They do all of that for wiffle ball!”

If you think playing this sport is easy, that’s your first error.

“It’s a stupid plastic bat and ball,” MNWA wiffle ball player Trent Steffes said. “It’s a little toy, but you see tempers flare because it seems so simple.”

The “professional” label is one that most of these players do not claim, but this tournament is not for wiffle ball rookies.

“We don’t want it to be something that anyone who picks up a wiffle ball bat on a weekend can do,” said NWLA founder Chris Gallaway. “We want you to play in your league for 10 or 15 weeks, and then if you’re good enough you can come here.”

This weekend sport is the ultimate hobby that takes the ultimate dedication to the diamond.

“It’s a lot of crazy, and a little bit of commitment,” said Skibbe.

But the feeling of finding a way to get back to the excitement of your childhood is outta the park.

“I wouldn’t give it up for the world,” said Ganeles. “There’s a lot of other stuff I could be doing, but it’s just a great time and the competitiveness is awesome.”