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Shelton's Wiffle Ball Strikes Out In Bid For Toy Hall Of Fame

David and Stephen Mullany outside their Wiffle Ball factory in Shelton.
David and Stephen Mullany outside their Wiffle Ball factory in Shelton. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

SHELTON, Conn. — It was a heavy favorite in the popular vote, but Shelton’s own Wiffle Ball® didn’t make the final cut for a spot in the National Toy Hall of Fame.

The time-honored plaything lost out to puppet, Twister and super soakers, The Strong National Museum of Play announced Thursday.

“It’s OK. It’s not the end of the world,” said David Mullany, who runs the Bridgeport Avenue company with his brother, Stephen. “We’re still making Wiffle Balls every day.”

It turns out clinching a berth in the Rochester, N.Y-based Hall of Fame is not determined by the Hall’s website poll: While Twister and Wiffle Ball received the most votes from fans around the world, a national advisory committee picked the inductees, said Shane Rhinewald, The Strong’s director of public relations.

First appearing thousands of years ago, puppets are found in nearly every culture on every continent. They help children develop dexterity as well as imagination, said museum curator Patricia Hogan.

Originally called Pretzel, the game of Twister has been around since 1964, 11 years after the Wiffle Ball factory opened. It has been a hit ever since.

“When my team first conceptualized the game in 1964, we never could have imagined how engrained in pop-culture and beloved by kids it would become,” said the game’s inventor, Reyn Guyer.

The baby of the bunch, the super soaker, began its road to the Hall of Fame in the 1980s. In 1990, inventor Lonnie Johnson worked out a deal with Laramie Corp., which sold 27 million of the water-blasting guns in the first three years of production.

Other also-rans in this year’s voting were Jenga, Battleship and an oldie but a goodie, the spinning top.

Past winners include Barbie, inducted in 1998, the Hall’s inaugural year, the ball (2009) and last year’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.

David Mullany said company employees have enjoyed hearing feedback on the contest from all across the country since voting began.

“I have friends on the west coast who contacted us about it,” he said. “We’ve gotten support from Wiffle Ball fans from all over. It’s been great.”

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