Langford turns childhood pastime into college game

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Dan Langford's ties to Wiffle ball gos back to his days as a kid growing up in St. Louis.

Back home, he and friends from his baseball team would divide up teams in their spare time and play a sport similar to baseball, but still so different.

But now as a 21-year-old student at Southeast Missouri State University, Langford has developed a new version of the sport.

"We don't run," he said. "We're too lazy."

So Langford and other campus Wiffle ballers developed a diamond-shaped field for their own sport with its own set of rules.

Under their own Wiffle ball rules, there are designated areas on the field where balls can land for safe singles, doubles and triples if not caught by one of the outfielders. Like baseball, a shot over the fence is a home run. The field has a diamond shape, and the foul lines are much closer in proportion to a baseball field.

The Southeast club uses the Student Recreation Center for its games. Unlike other club sports at Southeast, the Wiffle ball program is mostly unorganized.

"We just gather around and pick teams before we play," Langford said.

The club focuses more on having fun than competition, although things can get heated up.

"It was just something we all played as a kid," Langford said. "A bunch of people showed interest, so we threw things together and got it started."

The club was started by Langford when he was a sophomore in the fall of 2001. Langford now is a junior majoring in business marketing.

The club has grown to 20 members from its 12 players just a semester ago.

"We had a lot of people interested right off the bat," Langford said. "The interest prompted me to get things going."

Although Langford said he loves the sport, he realizes it's not something that will ever lead to more than recreation.

"It's probably just a college game," he said. "But I'll probably always play a game here and there for fun."

When Langford graduates, he said he hopes the program will be good hands. He plans to hand it over to an incoming freshman, "one of my friends," he said.

Langford attended Lindbergh High School in St. Louis and goes back home every summer. He hopes that there will enough players interested in his senior year to set up a tournament in the fall.

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