The sound of the push mower revving up, the taste of mosquito repellent adding that extra buzz to our beers and the morning smell of fresh baked orgasmic breakfast sandwiches (yes, they are that good) have all been well-known staples of the Shangri La’ Wiffleball history and lore. The family behind the experience though, is not quite as well known as they would like us to believe.
Recently uncovered documents recovered after the Shangri La’ flood of 2001 show that SLW history has been shaped by familial ties to some of baseball’s most controversial commissioners. Papers have indicated that Hixson blood ran deep in the veins of MLB commissioner’s Kenesaw Mountain Landis and A. Bart Giamatti. Coincidences in the two leagues histories can no longer be written off as happenstance.
As baseball’s first commissioner, Landis is best known, not for his banning of ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson following the 1919 Black Sox scandal, but instead for his ruling in a fledgling central Illinois wifflleball league. At that time Landis was known east of Champaign, IL as ‘that little Hixson boy’, a reference to his family ancestry in the land. At the time the wiffleball league was just establishing itself as the premiere wiffleball league in Middle America, when the talented, but quick trigger Landis, not pleased with the outcome of the 1917 classic, banned Series MVP Dane Gentry for an unsubstantiated, but widely circulated rumor of throwing games. While the charges were never proven, the Gentry family received a lifetime ban from the wiffleball field and Hall of Fame.
The ban remained until 1994? when Gentry’s great-grandson, playing under the alias, Shane Gentry, was approved for league play. His tenure lasted until 1996 when it was discovered he was an heir to the Series MVP and subsequently re-banned. After 12 years of under-the-table negotiations, Shane Gentry was allowed to rejoin the league, but forced to bat left-handed and, regardless of championships and towering home runs not allowed the join the most hallowed Hall in the land – the SLW Hall of Fame.
Followers, fans and supporters of SLW were appalled to learn of the first connection to a dirty MLB commish, but in 1998 the loyalists were floored when it was learned that A. Bartlett Giamatti, who was responsible for banning the ‘Hit King’ Pete Rose in 1989, was also posthumously involved in the banning and shaming of another legend, Cousin TA. TA, best known for his uncanny rally-killing ability at the plate and buzz-killing ability off the diamond, was forced into elimination from the tournament by young Jaime Hixson in his first act as commissioner.
Shortly after taking office, Hixson learned the ‘A.’ in A. Bartlett stood for Alblingler and that Giamatti, after seeing TA at the bat as a youngster in 1984 deemed his spawn as unworthy of ever stepping foot on the sacred Shangri La’ ball field, thus robbing the crowds of years of entertaining at-bats and awkward conversations.
Luckily, after a full review of the Hixson/Alblingler/and wherever else they come from-family tree has proven to have no connection to Bud Selig – they are Catholic after all. The SLW leadership should be in capable hands for years to come providing Jaime, Geoff or Jed ever produce a male heir, if not it’ll be a wiffleball version Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and Geena Davis and we will all be shamed into coming back and pretending we enjoy women’s athletics.