Jamie Murray ’16 always has loved the game of Wiffle ball, with its plastic yellow bat and perforated ball. In high school, he laid out a Wiffle ball field in his backyard, complete with a 40-foot-long by 10-foot-high Green Monster, a miniature version of the famous wall in Boston’s Fenway Park. “My parents were OK with it, believe it or not,” he says. While the little Green Monster eventually was blown down in a blizzard, the rest of the field remains intact, and neighborhood children still come around asking permission to play there. “Wiffle ball is one of those games you grow up playing, and you never grow out of it,” Murray says. “It brings out the inner kid.”
Wiffle ball is such a part of Murray’s life that when he decided to raise funds for a neighbor’s medical bills, he turned to the game. Cole Pasqualucci, who lives six doors down from Murray’s parents in Scituate, Mass., has a rare kidney disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. He spends large parts of his days on dialysis. “I always wanted to do something for Cole,” Murray says. “We grew up together. He’s 16. I’ve gotten close to him over the years. He’s a great kid.”
In 2010, Murray organized the first Cure for Cole Wiffle Ball Tournament, and it has since become an annual event. This year’s tournament attracted 44 teams, each paying a $100 entrance fee to spend a day playing Wiffle ball. With shirts and food also for sale, the tournament raised $6,500, the most in its history.
The tournament is held in Scituate at a big grass field crammed with as many as 11 games taking place at once. The day fills with sounds, such as the whack of the bat and the swoosh of the ball. “It’s plastic on plastic. It’s a crack and then not a whistle, but more like a humming,” says Murray. There are no umpires; a metal strike-zone marker stands behind the batter. If the ball clinks against the metal, it’s a strike. As a pitcher, “you feel awesome” when you hear that sound, says Murray.
The event may be for charity, but players take the games seriously. Many teams wear matching outfits, and one team this year dressed in patriotic clothes and ran a flag across the field to start the day. Sometimes disagreements break out between rivals, and Murray must ease tensions, reminding players that they’re playing Wiffle ball for a cause. It’s not the World Series.
Pasqualucci, the reason the players are all there, played on a team this year. “Everybody knows him. Everybody says hi to him,” says Murray, who when not playing Wiffle ball is a goalie for Babson’s ice hockey team. “He’s the center of attention. He loves it.”—John Crawford