Throwing ‘Em for a Loop | Knowledge & Wisdom

Tips for getting a grip on that summer staple, the Wiffle Ball.

By Yankee Magazine

Jun 18 2018


Born in a Fairfield, Connecticut, backyard in 1953, the Wiffle Ball is probably the most unaerodynamic projectile ever conceived. It will dip, rise, twist, wiggle, and do a fair rendition of Chuck Berry’s duck strut, depending on how you grip it. One early customer sent inventor David Mullany Sr. a diagram illustrating 30 different ways to throw a Wiffle Ball. Basically, it will do anything but straighten up and fly right.

As every serious student of pitching knows, the grip is a most important first step in throwing a pitch that will fool the batter. In baseball, the pitcher positions his fingers on the raised, stitched seams of the ball so that it will spin when released toward the plate. This creates turbulence that produces uneven patterns of high and low air pressure, which in turn cause the ball to dip or swerve as it approaches the hapless hitter.

With the Wiffle Ball, the oblong holes serve the same purpose as raised seams; however, they create the necessary turbulence without the rapid rotation a hardball pitcher must apply at the expense of his wrist and elbow.

In short, anyone can throw a major-league curveball with the Wiffle Ball:

  • Hold the ball with the holes on the side to which you wish the ball to swerve. Without your having to strain your joints, the holes will work their magic, confounding both you and the batter.
  • Experiment with variations in the grip and the position of the holes.
  • And finally, when all else fails, just throw the ball toward the plate unmindful of the above information. The wind blowing through those oblong holes will often do the most unpredictable things.

—Adapted from “The Gift of Wiffle” by Ric Bucher, October 1985