Wiffle Ball is something my friends and I engaged in a lot when growing up. While there are “official rules”, every yard, every game, every family had their own “house rules” often based on the shape of the yard, the amount of space available and the whims of the people playing. I won’t go into the details of all of the “house rules” we had in my yard (and there were quite a lot of them) but one of them involved calling balls and strikes. Calling balls and strikes was a task which fell to me through self proclamation as determined by the ancient and long recognized right of birth order. I was the eldest and the eldest have always made the rules. I remember one of the more infamous games of Wiffle Ball that I played in my backyard on Balmoral Drive in the early 1960s.
It was a bright early summer or late spring day and my brother Steve and I were playing a fierce game of wiffle ball. We didn’t often play together; in fact we didn’t do much together at all but that particular day we were bored and there wasn’t anything left to do so we ended up playing a game of wiffle ball. I, of course, was calling balls and strikes. My brother was having some differences of opinion over my calls and after one loudly and firmly called “Ball” he had enough and he not only disagreed strongly with me but came rushing at me screaming “Who gave you the right to call balls and strikes?”
I was beyond puzzled. I was incensed that anyone would question my right to both make the rules and to call balls and strikes and especially so given my absolute fair and unbiased opinion. I responded with equal vigor, “I’m the oldest, that’s what gives me the right”. At the moment it seemed absolutely incredulous to me that Steve would question the right of seniority, especially since I possessed it. (Maybe that’s a bit like the discussion of “White Privilege” today which we whites don’t easily get).
Needless to say, Steve wasn’t buying my “seniority claim” and he charged at both the batter and the ump (that would be me in my dual roles) and the inevitable scuffle ensued. After some pushing and shoving and maybe a thrown punch or two we got up off the ground and went back to playing, no one the worse off. I continued umpping and hitting until my three outs occurred and I went back to the pitcher / fielding position. Steve now thought that he should have the right to call balls and strikes since he saw it as a batter prerogative and not an older brother prerogative. I felt reasonable and magnanimous in granting him that concession not to mention that the three roles of “Ump, Pitcher/Batter and Rules Maker” was a lot to expect out of me even given my fair minded and unbiased fulfillment of those roles. Needless to say some of my best strikes were called “BALL” by the new umpire and I didn’t concur with the way he saw things.
Wiffle Ball, yes, I have many fond memories and house rules were always unique. I suspect the oldest brothers among us will concur with my inherited right to make the rules and the calls and the younger among us will scratch their heads and wonder. It’s actually quite an insight about making the rules and white privilege I don’t think I will push the discussion on that any further.
Happily Beyond The Need And No Longer Making The Rules! Dr Chance