Big Wiff takes a swing at raising funds

The inaugural Big Wiff tournament stepped up to the plate at Blaine Baseball Complex for championship play Aug. 19.

The Gold n’ Plump chicken takes a slice at a pitch offered by TC Bear when the mascots took the Killebrew Memorial Miracle League Field in Blaine as opening act to the Aug. 19 Big Wiff tournament championship series. Photo by Sue Austreng

The Gold n’ Plump chicken takes a slice at a pitch offered by TC Bear when the mascots took the Killebrew Memorial Miracle League Field in Blaine as opening act to the Aug. 19 Big Wiff tournament championship series. Photo by Sue Austreng

For playoffs, 120 teams competed Aug. 18 in classic Wiffle Ball play at seven Miracle League ball parks across Minnesota.

The seven teams who advanced gathered ‘round the diamonds and advanced through double-elimination brackets until Sir Wiff-A-Lot of Woodbury faced off against Be a Gentleman for the first-ever Big Wiff championship game.

In the end, Be a Gentleman of St. Paul won the tournament championship game 4-0. The grand prize: a trip for all team members to attend spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., to take in some Minnesota Twins spring training action.

The tournament, sponsored by Popsicle and presented in partnership with 1500 ESPN, Fox Sports North, Play Ball! Minnesota, Subway, HealthSource and MedCompass, was staged to raise funds for the Miracle League. In fact, the tournament benefits all nine Minnesota Miracle Leagues and will also help to build a 10th Miracle League field, said Kevin Thoresen, director of scouting and recruiting for Miracle League, an organization that provides opportunities for physically and mentally challenged children to play baseball as a team member in an organized league.

“Our mission is to give every child a chance to play baseball and that’s what we’re going to do. That’s what it’s all about,” said Thoresen.

The Big Wiff team raising the most money won a trip to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Before Big Wiff championship play began Sunday, mascots representing the Minnesota Twins, the Minnesota Wild and the Minnesota Swarm, the St. Paul Saints, Miracle League and more took to Blaine’s Miracle League ball park, the Killebrew Memorial Miracle Field.

For a quick two innings, the mascots pitched and hit, ran and scored to the great amusement of all spectators.

“That’s what we’re here for. We’re here for the kids and look at all the support we’ve got. Look at everyone who’s out here. This is great. Next year will be bigger,” said Thoresen.

Next year and each consecutive year, Thoresen said Big Wiff tournaments will be held the weekend before the state fair opens.

And with the visibility given the 2012 Big Wiff tournament, and by word of mouth from those who participated this year, Thoresen believes the 2013 Big Wiff tournament could beat the Guinness Book of World Records record number of athletes simultaneously competing in a Wiffle Ball tournament. That record stands at 1,500.

“Everyone can play Wiffle ball. This is a family fun event, little kids playing with dad or mom … That’s what it’s all about,” Thoresen said.

To learn more about the Big Wiff or to register your team for the 2013 tournament, visit www.theBigWiff.com. For more information about the Miracle League, visit www.MiracleLeague.com.

Sue Austreng is at
sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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