A Connecticut native is being considered for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame. The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y. has announced its twelve finalists for this year's induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame, and the Wiffle Ball – invented and still manufactured in Connecticut - is among them. It all began in the summer of 1953, when David N. Mullany, grandfather of the current company owners (brothers David and Stephen) was watching his 12 year old son and a friend play a game in their backyard in Fairfield, using a perforated plastic golf ball and a broomstick handle. They had given up on baseball and softball - not enough players for two teams, not enough space for a field, and too many broken windows.
After some trial and error, the wiffle ball was invented, and the rest is history – perhaps Hall of Fame worthy history. Even with the abundance of toys and rapidly expanding new technology available to today’s youth, the Wiffle Ball business remains strong, with millions manufactured in Shelton and distributed world-wide every year.
The competition is tough, including favorites from more recent decades and some with origin generations ago. Among the other toy finalists for 2015: American Girl dolls, Battleship, coloring book, Jenga, PLAYMOBIL, puppet, scooter, Super Soaker, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, top, and Twister. Only two of these iconic toys will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The finalists are chosen by historians and curators at The Strong. From there, a national panel of judges made up of inventors, educators, psychologists and others choose the winners.
Established in 1998, the National Toy Hall of Fame serves to recognize toys that have stood the test of time, remaining popular with kids generation after generation. The 12 toys are chosen on the advice of an advisory committee, and the winner will be announced at the Strong Museum in Rochester next month - on Thursday, November 5 at 10:30 a.m.
Inducted toys are selected on the basis of the following criteria:
- Icon-status: The toy is widely recognized, respected, and remembered.
- Longevity: The toy is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over multiple generations.
- Discovery: The toy fosters learning, creativity, or discovery through play.
- Innovation: The toy profoundly changed play or toy design. A toy may be inducted on the basis of this criterion without necessarily having met all of the first three.
If the Wiffle Ball wins, it will join toys such as bubbles, Candy Land, checkers, Crayola Crayon, Mr. Potato Head, Barbie, Monopoly, Easy-Bake Oven, G.I. Joe, the Frisbee, View-Master and Hot Wheels, just to name some of the 56 toys that have been inducted so far. Last year’s selections were the Rubik's Cube, bubbles and Little Green Army Men. The previous year, Chess and the Rubber Duck were inducted.
The Strong Museum is also running an internet-based poll asking viewers to select their preferred toy. (One vote permitted every day.) With 4,500 votes cast as of this week, the Whiffle Ball is in the lead among the 12 finalists, with 854 votes, about 18 percent of the total votes cast; followed by the puppet, the coloring book and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.