4 Locals in Wiffle Tourny

Fall of 1991

By Larry Hanover- Trenton Times


TRENTON- For most of their lives, these boys of South Trenton thought Chestnut Ave. was their Field of Dreams for Wiffle®Ball. Heck, the lighting was bright enough to even play night games.

Now, Mike Palinczar, Fred Bastedo, Chris Russell and Brian Russo have discovered another man’s Field of Dreams- and they plan to make it their own.

The Trenton Giants, as they call themselves (a la former minor league team here), are headed to Hanover, MA., for the Second Wiffle®Ball National Championship, beginning Sunday and lasting seven days.

In Hanover, the will play in World Wiffle®Ball Association president Rick Ferroli's scale model of Boston’s Fenway Park, which is so remarkable in detail that Sports Illustrated did a story on it last year.

The fascination these McCorristin High graduates had for the game grew out of the days when every 5 year-old on the block would take hacks at the hollow, white plastic ball that plays crazy tricks on the way to home plate.

The games on Chestnut have dwindled down to these four, along with statistician/reserve Matt Brophy. Always they were just for fun. “We didn't think there was a tournament for Wiffle®Ball,” Bastedo said.

Then they heard about it on ESPN. Soon they were off to the state tournament in Woodlynne, Camden County, where they placed second among 16 South Jersey teams, good enough to earn an invitation to Hanover.

The tournament will truly be National, featuring teams from every state except Hawaii. The prize money may go as high as $10,000 for the first place. But beating out the approximately 70 teams in this sport, which features only a pitcher, catcher, outfielder and designated hitter, could require winning three or more games a day.

What’s more these are 18 year-olds playing in a tournament where the average age is 23. The Giants will count on chemistry from having played together as they aim for Fenway's famed Green Monster, which in this case is 15 feet high and 60 feet away in left field.

Russell , Palinczar and Bastedo are four-year veterans of Trenton Post 93 in Mercer County American Legion baseball. Russell and Bastedo play at Mercer County Community College, while Palinczar is transferring from St. Peter’s in Jersey City, with Trenton State his likely destination. Russo attends Mercer but does not play baseball there.

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