In 2005, the Blue Ribbon Builders won a record seventh World Wiffleball Championship. Since that day, only three teams have won the title: Club Ripped and Funky Plastic Offspring (four times each), and Balco Boys (twice).
That decade of domination by the game's three power teams came to an end on Sunday at Channelside Park, as veteran team, Clutch Players, defeated two of the big three on their way to their first world championship.
‘Clutch,’ who lost a heartbreaker to ‘Funky’ in last year’s semifinal, simply outhit the four-time champs this year, cruising to a 5-2 victory in the final, led by Robert Moore and Andy Sieradski home runs. Clutch went 4-0 on Saturday, then beat Mokena, Ill.’s ‘Abusement Park,’ the Balco Boys, and the New Carlisle (Ind.) Newts to make the final.
Clutch Players first played in the tournament as teenagers in 2006, finally climbing the mountain ten years later after flirting with greatness for years.
People’s Elbow of Milwaukee, Wis., made their second final four in two years, nearly taking down Funky Plastic Offspring in the semifinal in extra innings.
“I can’t remember a better field of teams on Sunday,” said Hall-of-Famer Nate Hansen of Club Ripped.
And indeed, all final eight teams were undefeated for the first time in the tournament’s 36-year history.
37 teams came to Skokie from 15 states. Funky Plastic Offspring’s Mike Schuster, who won a title in 1985, was put in the final game on Saturday and hit a home run, making him one of three 54-year-old players to have hit dingers: Chris Montgomery in 2013, Bob DeLeonardis in 2014, and Schuster in 2015. (The three are tied as the oldest players to homer in a World Wiffle®Ball Championship. The youngest is Jim Gates of Mishawaka, Ind., who homered in 1980 at age 9.)
Park District officials estimate that the economic impact for Skokie over the weekend was more than $29,000. The 37th annual tournament will be held again at the Skokie Park District's Channelside Park, July 9-10, 2016.