Residents step up to the plate for wiffle tourney

It’s time to buy your peanuts and Cracker Jacks for the United Way’s fifth annual Greenwich Wiffle Ball Tournament, taking place July 21 at the town’s Polo Grounds on Hurlingham Drive.

The tournament gets “bigger and better” each year, evidenced by a 60-person roster that is nearly at capacity, according to Jenny Byxbee, Greenwich United Way’s youth services coordinator.

The organization is hoping for great weather, but more importantly, it is hoping to work with the community after the tournament to make headway in the development of the town’s “wiffle ball field of dreams,” Ms. Byxbee said.

The concept of the “field of dreams” began about five and one-half years ago after young Greenwich residents set up their own wiffle ball field in town. When it was determined that the field, which was built on a drainage lot, was potentially dangerous and constitutes a lawsuit risk, the town was forced to close it down, Ms. Byxbee explained. It was a “heartache” not only for children but for people of all ages in the community, she said. But it ended up leading to something bigger and better.

It was the community’s attempt to create happiness from sorrow that prompted the launch of the United Way tournament, Ms. Byxbee said. And while the Polo Grounds are beautiful, they are not conveniently located for many residents, which makes turning the “field of dreams” into reality all the more important, she added. Eventually, it is hoped that the wiffle ball tournament will be held there.

Regardless of where the tournament takes place, it is always a community-building event, Ms. Byxbee said.

With the combination of business owners, policemen, children and other local people, the tournament is a “really fun,” unifying experience for town residents.

One of the most interesting aspects of a wiffle ball competition is that a team of 12-year-olds can easily beat a team of 30-year-olds, Ms. Byxbee said with a laugh.

Although United Way tries its best to match teams evenly, after the first round of games, teams are matched by skill level rather than age, she explained.

In addition to the games being played, this year’s tournament has plenty to offer its participants.

According to Ms. Byxbee, there are a number of treats in store for players and spectators, including a homerun derby, an abundance of food provided by local sponsors and the tossing of the first pitch by Chief of Police James Heavey.

The tournament is “so special,” Ms. Byxbee said. “There are a wide range of folks who felt compassion and love for what happened” and want what’s best for kids in the community. It’s about “rallying around a positive thing.”

The best way to support the wiffle ball tournament, Ms. Byxbee said, is to volunteer as an umpire, which allows more games to be played simultaneously. To volunteer, contact [email protected]

The tournament takes place Saturday from 8 to noon. For more information, visit

[email protected]

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