WEBSTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In Webster, wiffle ball is more than just a simple backyard game.
“There’s really nothing like it,” says Matthew Stuewe.
“You’ve got to be here to really experience it,” says Brandon Gierczak.
Vargas Stadium is home to Webster Major League Wiffleball. It’s equipped with lights, bleachers, fences, and a scoreboard— all in the commissioner’s backyard.
“It’s grown over the years,” says Hector Vargas, the league’s commissioner. “The field was switched around a little bit and then we got a pool last year so we moved it.”
The league started as a simple idea four years ago after countless pickup games.
“He was like, let’s put a wiffleball league together,” says Stuewe, an outfielder on the Bannerwood Baboons. “I’m like, sure I’ll join. And then it just blew up.”
The league started out with just about 30 kids in the first year. It’s now grown to almost 150 players, with a waiting list of people just trying to get in.
“We’ve kind of created an experience for sports fans of kind of giving them the feeling of playing on the big stage,” says Vargas. “It starts with the combine and there are scouts from each team. Then, we give them the feeling of draft day where we have a big draft and you get to throw the jersey on at the draft. We have highlight reels and top-ten plays and we have a ‘Wiffleball Tonight’ show on our Youtube channel.”
At times they’ve had up to 200 spectators watching their games. This year, games are played in four different sessions, limiting the number of people at the stadium. Thankfully, there were no labor negotiations to add on to COVID concerns.
“We’re a very player-forward league,” says Will Johnson, centerfielder for the Houston Hippos, who won last year’s championship. “The owners were willing to sacrifice whatever it took to get us back out on the diamond and get us rolling for opening day, week one.”
All joking aside, this might be the most serious backyard wiffle ball league you’ll find.
“People treat it like it’s a job almost. People practice, we had a team practice at 8:30 in the morning,” says Vargas. “Teams are working out and lifting and stuff like that just for this.
“It brings me back to my high school days, it’s awesome,” says Stuewe. “I feel like I’m in the pros for wiffle ball.”
The WMLW will crown their fifth-ever champion this August.