One of summers favorite pastimes is spending a lazy afternoon in some school yard, in front of your house or in your backyard playing Wiffle®Ball . It’s a safe and inexpensive for many younger kids to learn the fundamentals of baseball. It also can become a passion. Just ask Mike Palinczar.
During the past summer, Palinczar and his Trenton Thunder team (which is not affiliated with the Trenton Thunder Double A baseball team), won the 1995 North American Wiffle®Ball Championship. The Thunder, made up of Palinczar, Fred Bastedo, Dan Cryan, Mike Soltesz and Ted Merias, was one of the twenty teams invited to participate in the event, which is billed as the World Series of Wiffle®Ball and is run by the Hamilton County (Ohio) Park District.
“It was great,” Palinczar said. “It gave us a chance to see how we stacked up against guys from other parts of the country. Some of em' were pretty good, too.” In the Super Major Division opener, the Trenton team blanked the Sloan Wiffle®Ball Club from San Luis Obispo, Calif., 5-0. The Trenton Thunder nipped the Irish Bombers from Georgia, 2-1. Cryan pitched a no-hitter in the Thunder's 1-0 win over the Wedding Party before a 2-1 win over Rasta Tide of Cincinnati put them into the final round. In the championship round of the double-elimination tournament, the Thunder dropped a 1-0 game to the Bechtold Brothers but then edged the Chicago-based team, 2-1 in extra innings for the title.
“We’ve been playing (Wiffle®Ball ) together for a long time,” said Palinczar who, for the past several years has run a tournament in Chestnut Park in Trenton's South Ward, “and besides, this gave us an opportunity to take a trip. It was sort of a mini-vacation.”
The tournament, which is run by former Montreal Expos player Kevin Priessman, was featured in both Sports Illustrated and ESPN2. “Some of these guys take it pretty seriously, Palinczar said, “but for us, it’s just a way to relax.” Palinczar is hoping to draw some of the teams and players, many whom were using specially-made aluminum Wiffle®Ball bats, who participated in the World Series to come to Trenton for a tournament next summer.