Hey, batter

Aug 14, 2003

The NY Times has an article about the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Wiffle ball. (The Atlantic did a piece last year.) We’ve got two rolling around our apartment – one was meant to be a little gift for my friend Joe Cimperman, but Anna found the box and unwrapped it.

Joe and I and a group of our friends (Mike Sacco, Tom Larkin, Bridget McGuinness, Kelly Crowe), all of us summer orientation advisors at John Carroll University the summer of 1991, spent hours in the backyard courtyard of East Hall playing wiffle ball. One evening, bottom of the eighth, JCU President Mike Lavelle, S.J., wandered into the playing field. One or another of the teams recruited him for a turn at bat, and his smile seemed to recall his days as an athlete at St. Ignatius High School.

A few years later, when I returned from Hawaii and was struggling to feed myself, I ingratiated myself with the Jesuits and got invited to dinner at Rodman Hall. Father Lavelle, whom I had roughed up a bit during my time as editor of the Carroll News, got up from his chair mid-meal and walked over to me. “It’s good to see you, Anton,” he said. That was more nourishing than the food I ate there that night.

Father Lavelle passed away not too long after that. I’ll always remember him for his wiffle ball pinch hitting, his gracious greeting, and the way he arranged for me as a sophomore to interview him for a feature in Company Magazine, the Jesuit publication. That published interview was my very first paid journalistic effort.

Anton Zuiker

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