Children and adults of all ages gathered at Pittsburg’s Don Gutteridge Sports Complex last Tuesday night to play wiffle ball, a recreational rendition of baseball.
Angelo Fears, operations manager at Pittsburg Parks and Recreation, organized this year’s tournament to celebrate the Fourth of July.
“It’s a family game,” Angelo said. “With competitive sports nowadays with kids involved, it’s so difficult to go to a game and just enjoy it because everyone’s worried about winning. Here, it’s just fun.”
Teams of three to five people either pre-registered or registered at the event for a price of $15 per team. The teams played against each other and were allowed two losses before they were out.
To play wiffle ball, they followed the same rules as baseball, except this time, they could throw balls to eliminate their opponents.
Quinten Fears, Angelo’s 11-year-old son, comes to play at the wiffle ball tournament every year. This year, he was a part of the winning team.
“Since I play baseball, I got into wiffleball,” Quinten said. “It relates to baseball, which is my favorite sport.”
While Fears came to have fun, others came with an edge of competitiveness. Jacob Shonk, a student at Carthage High School, and his teammates, drove all the way from Carthage to play and even stitched jerseys for the tournament.
“It’s really fun to get out here with our buddies and just have some fun, win a lot of games,” Shonk said. “We drive an hour every Sunday to play and we don’t take losing very lightly.”
John Krogen, a Frontenac citizen and electrician at AZZ, competed in the adult division of the tournament. His son, who he played baseball with in his backyard, also came to watch.
“I think it’s pretty neat that the City of Pittsburg puts it on,” Krogen said. “It’s something that people can get out and enjoy together and make new friends.”
Behind the ballfield’s gate, the audience rooted for their family members to win. John Varsolona came to support the team of his grandson and kids from his neighborhood.
“I love watching kids play,” Varsolona. “[I like watching them] peak, try for things. If they make an out, they make an out. You see a lot of laughing, with no pressure on them.”
There was only room for two winning teams though, from both the adult and kids division.
“The Mixed Bunch” — Quinten, AJ Fears, Christian Stover, Weston Rink and Hayden Patterson — won in the kids division, while “The Aces” — Travis Carlton, Ricky Cornell, Martell White, Scott Cochran and Robby Phillips — won in the adult division.
High school baseball players volunteered to umpire the event and helped run it.
Angelo hopes to host more wiffle ball tournaments in Pittsburg. But for now, the Fourth of July wiffle ball tournament is a beloved, annual tradition that will continue next year.