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Wiffling for a wish once again - Thoughts on a wiffle ball dynasty

August 24, 2018
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BANGOR – Seven years, seven championship games.

That’s the legacy of the Downtown with Rich Kimball team in the annual Wayne’s Wiffle for a Wish wiffleball tournament. The event – created and organized by Wayne Harvey as a fundraiser for the Make A Wish Foundation – marked its 10th year on Aug. 18. It’s a wonderful event that has raised nearly $100,000 for a remarkable cause over the past decade.

But we’re here to talk about the legendary run of Downtown.

Over the past seven years, the Downtown squad has won three division championships while making it to the final every single year. It’s a positively LeBron-esque run, a James-ian display of wiffle competence that is the result of the team being in precisely the right place at the right time.

Our first four years, we were in the Executive Division, where we won two of our three championships. After that, we moved to the then-newly-created Classic Division, where we won our last title in 2016 before finishing as runners-up both last year and this.

Before we go any farther, I should be clear – while we have put up phenomenal divisional results over the years, there’s no question that we are in the proper division. Almost without exception, we are creaky and old; we get by on craftiness and gumption. Were we to step up to the top-tier Open Division, we would be destroyed. Classic Quad-A players – great at our level, incapable of stepping up.

Said creakiness is on full display as I write this, two days after the event. As the team’s starting pitcher, I threw 15 innings of wiffle ball over the course of the day. That’s a lot. Granted, it’s not like I was throwing anything close to what anyone would consider hard – the longstanding joke is that my pitching proves that it’s possible to throw a wiffle ball negative miles an hour – but it’s still a lot of pitches. And I’m old. My shoulder is old and my elbow is old.

But hey – I throw strikes. Sure, a lot of them are strikes that get hit REALLY hard, but they’re strikes.

Team leader and namesake Rich Kimball and former show producer Bryan Stackpole are – along with myself – the only squad members to appear in all seven of these tournaments. The relative newcomers to the team are current Downtown producer Carey Haskell and friend of the show Jason Preble. Other than Stack, we’re all old.

But we had another great run this year, winning our first three games in pool play (the first in a torrential downpour) before getting absolutely lambasted in our final pool game by the team that we’d ultimately face in the championship … where they destroyed us again.

But it was another trip to the finals. We’re seven-for-seven. Sure, we haven’t taken home the hardware in a couple of years, but that’s OK – it wouldn’t be fun if we took the trophy ALL the time (though I think it’s about time we won one for Carey and Jason – hell, Jason’s probably our best player and he’s got no rings to show for it, which is a shame).

But more than the winning, it’s about the camaraderie that comes with taking the field. Wiffle ball is a kid version of what’s already a kid’s game; if you’re not out there having fun, then you’re doing it wrong. Goofing around and talking good-natured trash is what it’s about – if you happen to hit a bomb or strike someone out, so much the better.

In the end, we tip our caps to Vandelay Industries, the team that took us down in the 2018 Classic Division title game. Yes, it hurts our elbows and backs and knees, but we tip them anyway. So it goes.

And hey – maybe you think you’ve got what it takes to end our streak. And we’d love to see you try. There’s only one way to find out - put a team together. You’ve got 11 months or so. You’d be doing something fun and helping a wonderful cause.

So sign up for Wayne’s Wiffle for a Wish 2019 and see if you can prevent our efforts to “Designate for Eight.”

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