On Monday and Tuesday nights throughout spring and summer, Haynie’s Corner Wiffleball League teams play on the Doug Annakin Memorial Field next to the Alhambra Theatre.
As the service industry struggled in 2020, Josh Pietrowski, a Haynie’s Corner Arts District resident and owner of Doc’s Sports Bar, formed the wiffleball league with neighborhood restaurants and bars. They wanted “something that could bring us all together outside, but not too athletic.” A six-team league became 34 teams with 250-300 players of all ages by this year’s fourth season, which allowed the formation of major and minor leagues.
“It’s odd that sports works in an arts district but it does. The neighborhood fell in love with it. It’s amazing to see,” Pietrowski says.
It helps that wiffleball is a pretty chill sport. Players use plastic bats and perforated wiffleballs, and there is no stealing or running. Each game consists of three innings, and how far a batter hits the ball determines if they foul, strike out, or move bases.
Music plays during games, punctuated by color commentators and cheering supporters. A free hotdog stand on major league nights accepts donations benefiting the HCAD.
“To me, it’s about having fun,” says Phillip Sietz, co-captain of last year’s champion, Bokeh Lounge. “We’re competitive, but the one thing we love more than the game is the community.”
The league runs from April through September with a sponsor for each week’s games, and special matchups include the third-annual PRIDE tournament June 25. Playoffs start Sept. 26, and a championship game rounds out the season Oct. 6.