NEW ALBANY - The sport of wiffle ball is alive and flourishing in New Albany as the Dudy North Wiffle Ball League recently celebrated their one year anniversary with a tournament. The league has supplied area teenagers and young adults with their own version of a "Field of Dreams" with its popularity.
The idea of the league was hatched by local wiffle ball enthusiasts, Lewis Creekmore and his associate Kelsey Whitehead and the league's humble beginning started with play on June 12, 2019.
"We were sitting in Pizza Hut eating the buffet when my associate Kelsey Whitehead and I came up with the idea that we wanted to build a wiffle ball field," Creekmore said. "We wanted to make things more competitive so we began to play tournaments.
"The teams can be different each time. Sometimes we draft at the field and other times you can bring your own team. It’s more fun and more fair when we draft at the field though."
The duo had a plan in place for how to play the league, next they were on an assignment to find a central location to play the games. Creekmore was able to land the location with an excellent site on his grandfather's property on South Central. Then Creekmore and Whitehead had to follow through with the construction of the field, fence, benches, etc. to complete the endeavor.
"There are so many people that contributed to Dudy North's creation," Creekmore said. "Kelsey and I spent a lot of time and money getting Dudy North started. However, none of it would have been possible without my grandfather’s permission and Creekmore Landscapes supplies."
Creekmore got his inspiration for Dudy North from a previous project that his dad, Sam, had done many years earlier with the family landscaping business.
"In the 1990’s, author John Grisham lived in Oxford, Mississippi where he commissioned my father to build him and his family a baseball field," Creekmore said. "Grisham wanted his field to be named “Dudy North” after Mississippi State’s historic baseball stadium 'Dudy Noble'.
"The Grisham’s would later move to Virginia, giving my father access to the field and of course the sign. When we were building the field we came across the sign, thus giving us the great idea to name our field after Grisham’s sign."
Creekmore detailed what their tournaments look like and the fact is, they use many different setups as far as teams go, but the number of players on each team remains a constant.
"All tournaments are different, last summer we hosted “Bring Your Own Team” tournaments in which anybody could show up with their team of 3 people," he said. "However this summer we have reverted to drafting teams the day of the tournament. All tournaments are double elimination. Anyone is welcome to play at Dudy North. We’ve had teams of all girls and we’ve had teams of boys and girls. You show up....you can play!"
Dudy North had planned to have a regular in the summer of 2020 and had already drafted teams, but the Covid-19 pandemic ended any hopes of that.
"Due to coronavirus we had to cancel our season with designated teams," Creekmore stated. "For a tournament, we usually just get people to sign up and the people who are “veterans” get to be captains. We’ve had as many as 44 players and as little as 12."
Dudy North welcomes any local business or individual that would like to sponsor a tournament. However, the wiffle ballers will conduct their tournaments whether they have a sponsor or not.
"Yeah so we have a few sponsors and we’re also in the works of getting a few other sponsors," said Creekmore. "We will play a tournament with or without a sponsor. However, if we have a sponsor lined up, then that just makes everything a bit more fancier."
The Dudy North league will probably play wiffle ball until the first week of August according to Creekmore, but he states that it gets tough to keep playing during football season.
Anyone that is interested in playing in a tournament is encouraged to get in contact with Creekmore via Twitter or Instagram on his Dudy North Wiffle Ball League accounts. You can find them on Twitter here - @DudyNorth and on Instagram at this location - @dudynorth.
"We are always wanting more people to play, the more the merrier," Creekmore said. "With more teams, the tournaments are more exciting and more competitive.
"We don’t have any set dates. However we do announce all of our tournaments on Twitter and Instagram a few days before they happen."
Creekmore shared what his original goal was for wiffle ball and how he thinks that it has benefitted the local community and its young people.
"We just want to get kids out of the house and have fun," he said. "There’s nothing better than playing wiffle ball on a hot summer day. Everyone who plays with us at Dudy North will be and is always remembered."
• All tournament games are 3 innings long. The championship is a 4 inning game followed by another 4 inning game if needed.
• Each inning you’re required to get 2 outs.
• Run rule per inning is 7
• Run rule for the game is 15