SHELTON, Conn. — Shelton’s own Wiffle Ball® finally knocked one out of the park, winning a coveted spot in the National Toy Hall of Fame.
The time-honored plaything — made in Shelton since 1953 — joins paper airplanes and the board game Clue in the hall’s Class of 2017.
The new group was inducted into the Rochester, N.Y.-based hall, taking their place alongside previous honorees such as the dollhouse, jump rope and the Radio Flyer wagon.
To make the hall of fame, toys must have inspired creative play for years and over generations. The winners are displayed in the hall, located at The Strong museum in Rochester, N.Y.
This year’s 12 finalists were: the board games Risk and Clue, the Magic 8 Ball, Matchbox cars, My Little Pony, the paper airplane, PEZ candy dispenser, play food, sand, Transformers, the card game Uno and Wiffle ball.
Invented more than six decades ago by retired semi-pro baseball player Dave Mullany, the Wiffle Ball was born when a small backyard and several broken windows meant Mullany’s son all but gave up on baseball.
Mullany developed a lighter ball with eight oblong slots that allowed it to grab air, changing its trajectory.
A strike-out was called a "wiff," according to the family-owned Wiffle Ball Inc., which has produced millions of balls each year ever since.
The Class of 2017 inductees join more than 60 other toys that have been inducted into the hall since its opening in 1998.
Past winners include Barbie, inducted in 1998, the ball (2009) and 2015’s Little Green Army Men. The Hall of Fame makes room for both commercial successes and more creative playthings, which have included the blanket, the cardboard box and a stick.
Wiffle Ball nearly made the cut in 2015, but lost out to the puppet, Twister and super soakers.
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