FARMINGTON — John Dauphinais is all about Wiffle Ball and, thank goodness, he is also all about the T-shirts.
The 28th annual Courier Cup Wiffleball Classic takes place Saturday and Sunday in Farmington. While 20 teams battle for the coveted Cup, many players will also trade elbows and jostle in line to purchase a Wiffle Ball T-shirt to commemorate the event, whether they play primo Wiffle Ball or have to file it away as a lost weekend.
Dauphinais, 58, a talented graphic artist who lives in Chester, designed his first T-shirt for the tournament 25 years ago, when he was still playing.
“I always step back and ask myself is it something I would purchase and wear around,” said the long-time friend of the Courier Cup. “It has to have some personal appeal to me. And we need to sell shirts, as commercial as that sounds.”
All T-shirt proceeds, as well as that of the tournament, benefit the Farmington 500 Boys & Girls Club, the town’s long-standing youth athletic organization.
Since 1992, Dauphinais, a life-long friend of Courier Cup founder Mike Whaley, has designed 24 shirts, including this year’s model. In the last 25 years he did not design a shirt in 1995 and 1998. Coincidentally, ‘98 was the year Dauphinais’s old Wiffle Ball team, the Perforated Orb Whackers (POW), won their only Courier Cup championship.
Over the years, his shirts have been inspired by, among other things, the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, two World Cups, the 1968 movie classic 2001: A Space Odyssey (2001: A Wiffle Ball Odyssey), SpongeBob Squarepants (in the person of his carefree distant cousin, WiffleBob) and Woodstock (Wiiflestock).
A sugar skull, celebrating the Day of the Dead, and two breweries — Magic Hat (Magic Bat) and Two Roads — have also provided colorful entries. In fact, the logo of the Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford, Conn., provided the inspiration for this year’s shirt.
Some have distinct Wiffle Ball themes and others are designed around a milestone (the 20th and 25th anniversary shirts come to mind).
There has also been witty slogans: “There’s no whining in Wiffle Ball.” “With liberty and Wiffle for all.”
Originality is always at the forefront of Dauphinais’s thinking. “I get inspired by a lot of different things,” he said.
“I try to do a totally different design from year to year, so I don’t get caught in a rut,” said Dauphinais, who has never charged for his designing services. “I always start each year from scratch. Each year is a total surprise. Sometimes I don’t even know what it’s going to be.”
The first design he said was “really based on having a vintage sense to it. I looked at old advertising pieces. I wanted it to be different and unique.”
The T-shirt color plays a pivotal role in his design. While white has been the primary color, Dauphinais has also used charcoal, several different shades of green, gray, black, orange, silver, lime and, this year, stone blue.
“It’s something different,” said Dauphinais, who grew up in Lee and graduated from the University of New Hampshire. “It allows me to use the color as part of the design. It allows (the design) to breath and move.”
What he also knows is that somewhere in the design there will invariably be a Wiffle Ball. “Sometimes it’s small and insignificant, or in your face.”
Dauphinais will, from time to time, include the color orange somewhere in the design, because “it’s a big color in the Farmington area.”
But, most importantly, the design is different from year to year, so it doesn’t get boring.
“I want to keep the interest up, so it’s always a surprise,” he added.
A surprise, of course, by design.
Speaking of T-shirts, the Wild Ones, captained by Drew Pepin, will be sporting new team shirts this weekend in honor of Drew’s mom. Susan Pepin died from triple negative breast cancer last March at age 49.
The Wild Ones, from Rochester, are wearing the pink-sleeved shirts with a pink cancer ribbon on the back to honor Susan’s life and show their support for breast cancer awareness.
The tournament starts Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at the Farmington 500’s Summer Street complex. Twenty teams will compete in pool play, and at the end of the day the field will be reduced to eight. Those teams will return Sunday for a single-elimination championship round starting at 10 a.m.
The Kraw Sox are the defending champions, although they will be without one of their stalwarts, Alan Doucet. Doucet has played in 19 straight Courier Cups and on five championship Kraw Sox teams, but will miss his 20th. He has been asked to present four sessions at the Nurse Anesthesia National Congress in Seattle, an opportunity he could not pass up — even for more potential Wiffle Ball glory.
Doucet tried to get his sessions moved to Monday or Tuesday, but, he said, his proposal was met with jest and laughter.
Several of Doucet’s teammates offered their thoughts on his Seattle trip, none of which were remotely suitable for publication.
Doucet vowed to return in 2018 — no GoFundMe required, referencing the Rochester Rogues’ GoFundMe drive, initially done as a joke, which has almost fully funded teammate Kory Ferullo’s flight back from Colorado.
For more information on the Courier Cup and to see all of John Dauphinais’s T-shirt designs, go to the website (couriercup.com).
Ms. Wake has covered Wiffle Ball since 1990. She lives in West Alton with her cats, Fred and Lynn.