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MailTribune.com
  • Beat the Clock

    A hardy group of Whiffle Ball players set record for the longest game
  • Tired, sweaty and a little loopy, nine Rogue Valley men Sunday broke the world record for longest Wiffle Ball game ever played.
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  • Tired, sweaty and a little loopy, nine Rogue Valley men Sunday broke the world record for longest Wiffle Ball game ever played.
    On a playing field at U.S. Cellular Community Park, the game ended at about 1 p.m. after 25 hours, 39 minutes and 33.5 seconds. Moments earlier, player Donny Guy — a 36-year-old former Medford resident who flew from Las Vegas to participate in the game — accidentally lost his grip and the crowd shrieked as his yellow bat went sailing into the stands, smacking a man watching the game.
    "I got hit with it, I'm going to take it home," 71-year-old Jim Standard said after the game while holding the bat, which Guy signed for him.
    "I bet those guys can barely move. I'm going to hang this up at home," said Standard.
    Official documents, as well as video and photo evidence of the game, will be sent to the London offices of the Guinness Book of World Records for verification before the achievement can be pronouced as official.
    The record attempt was the idea of Julian Cordle, a Medford Parks and Recreation comissioner, who actually conceived of the idea a few years ago, but decided to put his plan into action this year.
    With his friend Susannah Graven serving as health steward, they gathered volunteers and hand-picked players for the game played over two days.
    The record-breaking contest was to raise money for the Medford Parks and Recreation Foundation, which will fund various parks and recreation activities for underprivileged kids.
    After the nine men played from 11 a.m. Saturday until about 1 p.m. Sunday, they had raised about $4,700 for the foundation.
    "A swim lesson is $25 and a week of day camp is $80," said Cordle, "which turns a latch-key kid — who comes home and plays video games after school — into an active kid participating in supervised outdoor activities."
    The previous world record for longest Wiffle Ball game was 25 hours, four minutes and 53 seconds.
    In breaking the record, the U.S. Cellular field players would get a five-minute break every hour.
    Health steward Graven was there the entire time and slept only from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday.
    As support staff, Graven's role was instrumental in keeping the morale and energy up in the men, planning meal preparations and by organizing the verification required by the Guinness organization.
    "We had to make sure their nutrition was taken care of," Graven said. "We fed them high protein and high fat foods with plant based carbohydrates." Dragonfly Cafe in Ashland brought in its chef to cook breakfast for the players on Sunday morning.
    "They were so tired, but after that breakfast you could really see their energy shifted," Graven said.
    "Without Susannah we would have just had some bags of bread and turkey meat," Cordle said. "I had no idea we would need so much to keep us going."
    Donations came from Southern Oregon Credit Union, Harry & David, Trader Joe's and coffee donated by Human Bean.
    "Insurance Lounge came through with more than half of the money," said Cordle.
    Most of the players agreed that the toughest part was playing from midnight to 6 a.m. Sunday, when the temperature dropped, everything became wet with dew and their eyelids got heavy.
    "I've never played Wiffle Ball before; it was fun," said 24-year-old Cameron Williams from Ashland. "It got pretty cold around 5 a.m., and I had to put a sweatshirt on, but I'm from Oregon. I can take it."
    Along with the physical and mental challenge of completing the game, documenting the event and proving to the Guinness Book of World Records that they beat the record was also a challenge.
    Graven had six pre-approved umpires in attendance and six lay person witnesses — who each had to sign a three-page affidavit. Every four hours a new witness would be called on to watch. There had continuous filming by a videographer and photographer, along with many social-media posts on Facebook.
    "I tried to update the Facebook page every few hours, so the players families far away could keep up," Graven said.
    At one point there was a question about how the breaks counted with the time, and Graven and other volunteers would nervously wait while emails were being sent back and forth from the Guinness people in London.
    "We have to compile all of our evidence," said Cordle.
    Beginning Saturday morning the men played through the hazy smoke caused by wildfires, hail, rain, wind, sun and early morning dew all while fighting fatigue, but in the end it wasn't really about Wiffle Ball.
    "It was about finding nine guys we could do this with," Cordle said, "and having fun for a good cause."
    Reach reporter Mandy Valencia at 541-776-4486 or mvalencia@mailtribune.com
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