It's not that Pat Moriarty dislikes his job at American Family Insurance. He loves it.
"No two days are ever the same," he says.
But once a week, the end of the work day can't come quickly enough. "It's like being back in school all over again, where you know you've got the sandlot games to play when you get out," he says.
However, Pat's sandlot game isn't baseball. It's a wiffle ball league - for adults.
"A bunch of guys getting together and playing a child's game," says wiffle ball player Jeff Patt. It's a chance for the guys to get out of the house once a week, even if their wives don't quite understand the phenomenon.
"She, I think, thought I was an adult nerd for a long time," says Rob Anderson.
"Pretty much we tell our friends, 'Yeah, our husbands are playing wiffle ball tonight,'" says Trish, Rob's wife. "They're like, 'What?! Wiffle ball?!"
It certainly isn't your kid's wiffle ball league. The ball can be very tough to hit.
"You gotta watch a lot of YouTube," says pitcher Kevin Adrian. "That's how I learn to throw my pitches."
The games have no umpires. Just a board that marks the strike zone and a diamond so small it only needs two outfielders (with no infielders, except for the pitcher). A few other rules: If a batter hits the ball into the outfield and it isn't caught before touching the ground, it's a base hit. If the ball bounces in the infield, the batter must get to first base before a fielder touches it. Otherwise, the batter is out. Fielders can also throw the ball at runners to get them out.
One more rule in this league: call no one by his real name. Everyone has a nickname. Some of the nicknames include Yo, Jabrone, Nightmare, Monk, Cheeks and Caz (Zac spelled backward). The league's founder, Moriarty, has a nickname, too: Truck. Truck started playing wiffle ball on the east coast and moved to Minnesota five years ago.
"I missed it so badly and found there was really nothing in the way of wiffle ball out here," he says. So he started the HRL Twin Cities Wiffle Ball League, which plays Mondays and Thursdays in Eagan and Plymouth. The league now boasts 100 players, 18 teams and a website packed with every stat, standing and ranking you can think of. Moriarty says it's considered, by many, the best wiffle ball league in the country.
"If you were to ask my wife, she'd say with all the time I spend working on that, it better be the number one league in the country," Moriarty says with a laugh. To Moriarty, wiffle ball isn't just a game for children. It's a game for adults to hit homeruns, strike out batters and live out childhood dreams.
The league will hold a fund-raiser tournament August 9 in Hopkins called "Wifflin' 4 Wishes." It will raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota. Anyone can enter a team. The deadline to enter is August 1. Check the league's website for more information.
(Copyright 2008 by KARE 11. All Rights Reserved.)