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A decade of wishes and wiffle balls: Wayne’s Wiffle for a Wish to mark 10th year

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A decade of wishes and wiffle balls: Wayne’s Wiffle for a Wish to mark 10th year (photo courtesy of Wayne's Wiffle for a Wish)

BANGOR – Wayne Harvey has spent the last decade trying to help make wishes come true – with wiffle ball.

Harvey – a television personality for WABI here in Bangor – has been at the helm of Wayne’s Wiffle for a Wish, an annual wiffle ball tournament that raises funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, for years now. The tournament is about to mark its 10th year, with the latest edition taking place on Saturday, August 18 at Union Street Athletic Field.

Teams compete in three divisions – Open, Classic and Executive – for bragging rights. Open is home to the cream of the crop, while Executive is for teams looking for a more casual good time. Classic now exists somewhere in the middle. Team registration is still open – people looking to sign up a team should pay a visit to the event’s website at There are sponsorship opportunities there as well, should you or your business be interested in participating. You can also find Wayne’s Wiffle for a Wish on Facebook.

In the years since its inception, Wayne’s Wiffle for a Wish has raised tens of thousands of dollars, all of it dedicated to helping Make-A-Wish in its mission to grant the wishes of terminally ill children from all over the country.

According to Harvey, it all started with a health scare in his own family.

“I’ve got three daughters,” he said. “Back in 2004, when my now-middle daughter was nine weeks old, she was sick. That’s when she got her first biopsy. And the doctors didn’t know what was happening. Over the next nine months, she underwent a number of procedures. We were in Bangor and Portland and Boston.

“It took until she was two-and-a-half for us to figure it out. It was never really life-threatening; in that way, we were incredibly lucky.”

It was during those regular visits to the hospital that Harvey saw some of the other children – and other parents – that weren’t quite as lucky.

“That’s the thing,” he said. “We’d do these things and then that night, we’d go home. Meanwhile, you see these other kids and they’re not going home that night. Some of them, maybe they’re never going home.”

That’s when the seed was planted. Harvey wanted to do something – he just didn’t know what. And when he was hired at WABI in 2008, that really started the ball rolling … though he did need some encouragement along the way.

“I started looking around for ideas: Can I help out these kids and their families? Can I find ways to better the community? I knocked the idea around for a year or so, kept talking about it and thinking about it. Finally, my wife said ‘Shut up and do something.’”

Harvey laughed.

“So I did.”

Harvey knew he wanted to create some sports-related event as a fundraiser, but he wasn’t sure just what he wanted. He considered a few ideas, but he knew that instead of a golf tournament or a basketball tournament, he wanted to do something different. Hence – wiffle ball.

“I heard about the tournament up in Lincoln [the Lincoln Homecoming Wiffleball Tournament, a town tradition since 1996] and knew that that was what I wanted to do, so I started working toward putting a tournament together.”

That first year saw 16 teams sign up. It rained sideways and people had a heck of a time and Harvey was able to hand a check for $2,000 to Make-A-Wish. The next year saw an increase in teams and in sponsorships and in the size of the check – this one was for $5,500. Bear in mind that the average cost of a wish was right around $6,000 at that point; it has since increased a bit in the past couple of years.

And from there, it has continued to grow. The current list of sponsors and donors, spanning a range of levels, is impressive. The event’s title sponsors are The Nite Show with Danny Cashman and Bernatche Auto Body. At the Triple Level are WABI, Northeast Planning Associates, Todd's Salsa and BMB Construction. The Double Level includes Downtown with Rich Kimball, Tires, Batteries, and Accessories (TBA Bangor), Smile Docs, Slipping Gears Cycling, Bar Harbor Jam Company and TMatt Tax & Financial. The Single Level features Hammond Lumber Company, Diversified Ink and Governor's Restaurants. In addition, there are a number of raffle prizes, sponsored and/or provided by Quality Jewelers, Old Town Canoe, Van Syckle Kia, the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Bruins, TMatt Tax & Financial, Governor's Restaurants and Bar Harbor Jam Company.

Even after a decade, Wayne’s Wiffle for a Wish remains popular with participants.

“People really like it,” said Harvey. “They enjoy it. It’s something fun and different. The highest number of teams we’ve ever had has been around 36 or so. We’re looking at 25 or more for this year. There’s a great core support – and from more than just players.”

The growth of the event has meant that some things have gotten easier, while others have grown a bit more complicated.

“The first three or four years, I was working on stuff fairly constantly,” Harvey said. “There was stuff to build, there was infrastructure that needed to be developed, there were contacts that needed to be established and then maintained.

“Now that we’ve gotten bigger, there are plenty of people to help,” he continued. “I’ve got a board of directors, we meet and chat a couple of times a year, they come out and help me set up the Friday before the event. People ask to help set up and I can tell them we’ve got it covered; it’s pretty well-oiled at this point. And there’s a great group of people that help run things and tear it all down and clean up afterward.

“Brenda Gammon takes care of all of the food, handles the whole thing. And the Mullany family, who run The Wiffle Ball Company, give me all of the equipment at cost.

“And I couldn’t do any of it without the support of my family,” he added. “They are as devoted to this event as I am, selling raffle tickets and manning the tent and collecting bottles and doing everything else that needs to get done. They’re the ones who free me up to go around and help make sure everything is running smoothly.”

As for the wiffle ball? Well, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that it can get competitive.

“Look, the competition can be a little intense,” Harvey said with a laugh. “But it’s also about having fun. People have a blast. And with the divisions, we can make sure that things stay competitive. We want players of all skill levels to have a place where they can compete.”

(In the interest of full disclosure, please note that the author of this story is a member of the Downtown with Rich Kimball team. 2018 will mark our seventh year as part of the tournament. We’ve got three titles and three runner-up finishes in our six previous seasons and we’re on a quest for title four. Be warned.)

But again – it’s all about the cause. And Harvey has raised a LOT of money for Make-A-Wish over the years.

“We’ve raised a little over $85,000, all told,” he said. “We’ve granted about 13 wishes, give or take – the cost per wish went from $6,000 to $7,000 a couple of years ago. I’m hoping that we can make a push this year and get the total up to the $100,000 mark. I’d love to get that average to $10,000; 14 grand and change and we make it.”

As you might expect, the folks at the Make-A-Wish Foundation are more than happy to be associated with an event such as this one.

“Yeah, the folks at Make-A-Wish love us,” Harvey chuckled. “They don’t have to dedicate any resources to us – we just give them a check. It’s a true donation.”

It’s clear that that affection goes both ways; Harvey’s devotion to this cause is palpable when he talks about why he chose it.

“We could have picked from countless children’s charities,” he said. “And they’re all great, great causes. The thing about Make-A-Wish is that there aren’t restrictions. It’s not all about a particular illness; they help everyone. It’s all about finding a way to give a child and that child’s family a smile when they could really use one. With Make-A-Wish, you’re helping bring about that smile. It’s an incredible feeling.”

It’s a feeling that every participant gets to experience; Harvey leads off every tournament by introducing a Make-A-Wish family. Sometimes they speak, other times they don’t, but just their presence is a wonderful reminder that yes, people are having fun, but they’re doing it for a reason – and a pretty important one at that.

“It’s not about me or about the players,” said Harvey. “It’s about more than just playing. It’s a chance to have a personal, tangible connection to the cause. It’s about helping these kids. It’s about helping give them that smile.”

(To register a team, to offer a sponsorship or to get more information about Wayne’s Wiffle for a Wish, you can visit their website at; you can also check out their Facebook page.)


Playing the game

Let’s talk about the rules of the game as it’s played during Wayne’s Wiffle for a Wish.

Teams are made up of three to seven players. There can be no more than four fielders (including the pitcher) at any one time. There can be one designated hitter, for a total of five batters in your lineup.

The foul poles are no more than 100’ from home plate, while center field can be no farther that 120’. Lines on the field indicate hits if a ball lands beyond them: 35’ for singles and 60’ for doubles. If a ball hits the fence, it is a triple. If it clears the fence, it’s obviously a home run. Grounders fielded cleanly in front of the singles line are outs.

Please note: there’s no running when you hit. It’s lovely.

The pitching line is 40’ 6” from the plate. The strike zone is one foot off the ground and 32” square. Each game is five innings or 60 minutes long, whichever comes first; playoff games go to six innings. Pitchers can throw a maximum of three innings in any one game.


A view from the field

As previously mentioned, I’m a member of one of the most successful teams in the history of Wayne’s Wiffle for a Wish; the Downtown with Rich Kimball team has won three titles in six years, reaching the championship game in each of our non-championship years. We are a lower division juggernaut.

(Emphasis on the “lower division” part. The Open division of this tournament features some wildly impressive teams, with guys who can throw wiffle balls upwards of 80 miles per hour and other guys who can actually hit balls traveling at that speed. Our team would be lost against many of those squads.)

Over the past few years, I’ve been decent at the plate, with a handful of extra base hits and a couple of homers to go with plenty of singles and walks. I’m not the best hitter on our team, but I do all right.

But it’s on the mound where I truly frustrate. See, I don’t throw hard. At all. My arm has always been the weakest part of my game; I threw slow at the peak of my powers … and that was a long time ago. What I can do is take advantage of the power of the wiffle ball better than most, throwing huge sweeping slow moving curves that look to be either out of the strike zone or deliciously hittable, but are often neither.

The Downtown with Rich Kimball team has plenty of talent – Rich Kimball and Carey Haskell bring the same energy and dexterity to the wiffle ball field that they display in the studio. Bryan Stackpole remains the young buck of the bunch, roaming the outfield with reckless abandon. Jason Preble brings a booming lefty bat and soft hands. And rumor has it a former Downtown player is returning to the fold this year – much to the dismay of all who may face him on the mound or at the plate.

If I had to guess, I’d say we are once more the team to beat … and I very much look forward to the karmic retribution the universe lays upon my head for my hubris. Regardless of who wins and who loses, it’s a phenomenal time. So if you’re interested in possibly seeing my infuriating junkball pitching in person, head to and register a team.

Seriously – it has become an annual highlight and one of the most fun days of the year. Join us.


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