The Yard, a 5,000 square-foot indoor baseball and softball training facility in Southwest Roanoke County, is looking for teams to sign up for its inaugural Wiffle Ball League, which will take place in July and August.
The vision for the league, according to co-owner Ricky Gregg, is to provide a change of pace for the competitive baseball or softball player, as well as foster a fun family environment for players of all ages and skill levels.
“The way we looked at it, most kids are coming off of school competition and are looking to wind down,” said Gregg. “We wanted to do something that would be fun for them and fun for the whole family.”
The league will consist of two divisions – one for kids under age 14 and one for all players 15 or older — and will feature several quirky rule changes. For example, each team can have a maximum of six players, five of whom (a catcher, pitcher and three fielders) may play in the field at any given time. A player doesn’t need to tag or force out a runner – they can actually hit them with the ball – provided it is below the waist.
“I’ve found that trying to peg a runner with the ball doesn’t always work that well,” Gregg quipped when explaining the rule.
There will be two outs per inning instead of three, and games will last 5 innings or one hour, whichever is shorter. The Yard will also provide umpires, who will call balls and strikes, as well as impose limits on the speed of pitches thrown.
“We want them [pitchers] to throw junk, instead of fastball after fastball,” Gregg said.
Despite some of the fun rule modifications, Gregg still intends for the league to be competitive. There will be a playoff system, and the league champions will receive trophies and a plaque. The league will also recognize home run and RBI champions with trophies.
“We want it to be fun, but we also want it to be competitive,” Gregg said, noting that one team consisting of former college players and Gregg’s partner, George Canale, has already signed up. Canale played for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1989-1991.
Gregg also stressed that the presence of the league will not disrupt normal business operations at The Yard. Though monthly membership packages will not be offered for the summer, individual lessons will still be held.
“We’re still open for business,” Gregg said.
Note: all teams and players must register by July 4 to compete in the league. Cost is $25 per player or $150.00 per team. Season will consist of 12-15 games beginning July 6 and end in late August. For more information, contact The Yard at 540-355-1176 or email to [email protected]