WIFFLE Tourney in Vermont Draws Fans for Good Cause

Posted by Joe Trezza, MLB.com
Published Saturday, August 13, 2016
View the original article here.

ESSEX, Vt. — The way Travis Roy sees it, it’s hard to put into words, even after all these years of trying. Half of the reason is because there were days he never thought he’d hear cheers again, and hear all these people cheering. The other half is because of where they are, all standing in front of him in this mini-baseball wonderland, and how far he came to get here.

This weekend in Essex, a rustic town of 9,000 stemming from a single gravel road, Roy is once again serving as the headmaster for what may be America’s most little known, yet heartwarming baseball weekend.

For the 15th consecutive year, his Travis Roy Foundation’s Wiffle ball tournament brought teams to its one-of-a-kind facility near Lake Champlain to raise money for spinal cord injury research. More than 400 players spread out over 32 teams will spend the weekend swinging plastic yellow bats on fields that could easily be mistaken for hallowed ground.

The Travis Roy Foundation annual Wiffle ball tournament is in its 15th year. (Joe Trezza/MLB.com)

The Travis Roy Foundation annual Wiffle ball tournament is in its 15th year. (Joe Trezza/MLB.com)

That’s because the Essex complex features fascinating to-scale replicas of Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and the “Field of Dreams,” from the iconic movie of the same name. The entire Wiffle ball tournament is played on these fields, meticulous in their design down to the last piece of brick ivy, to the final shine of the mini CITGO sign in left field. A hue of history hides in every miniature corner.

“It’s something that you see for the first time and think ‘Wait, can I put one of these in my backyard?'” said Bruce Bosley, who works for the Travis Roy Foundation. “You say, ‘Wow. Why didn’t I think of that?'”

Fenway has the Monster, the white netting atop it, the yellow home run line in center, everything. Wrigley has the brick and ivy, the vintage chalk scoreboard. The Field of Dreams is cloaked in cornstalks.

Yet the weekend’s central figure remains Roy, who started the foundation in 1997 after cracking his fourth and fifth vertebra in a horrific hockey accident two years prior. Roy was a freshman hockey player at Boston University in 1995 when he crashed into the boards 11 seconds into his first collegiate game. The collision paralyzed him instantly. Roy, now 41, has lived the rest of his life as a quadriplegic.

His foundation funds research in hopes to find a cure for spinal cord injuries, while also providing people with disabilities necessary equipment. The foundation raised more than $550,000 last year and nearly $3.5 million since its inception.

This weekend’s tournament figures to get the foundation close to its 2016 goal of $550,000 raised.

“There will be a cure for paralysis some day,” said Roy. “It’s taken longer than I’ve ever hoped and we st