Davey wanted to play baseball. But fifty years ago, in his small town, he couldn’t find enough players for two full teams or an empty lot big enough for a field. And when he played ball in his back yard, he just broke windows and got into trouble. So Davey began playing with a plastic golf ball and a broom handle for a bat.
When his dad, David Mullaney, a former semi-pro baseball pitcher, realized his son was hurting his arm trying to throw curves with the little plastic ball, he decided to find a better solution. Mullaney got a bunch of hollow plastic spheres from a local factory, sat down at his kitchen table and began cutting different size holes in the balls with a razor knife. He thought maybe the holes would alter the ball’s flight and help his son throw curves and sliders without hurting his arm.
All the balls failed—except the one with the eight oblong holes cut into one of the hemispheres. This ball curved naturally and sharply without a violent snap of the wrist. In fact, Davey was now striking out so many batters; he called his new ball a “wiffle ball”. A year later, Mullaney borrowed $20,000 from family and friends and started producing Wiffle Balls in his little suburban town of Shelton, Connecticut.
“I didn’t want investors.” He said, “I wanted to control my own company.” This was the beginning of one of the hottest fads of the fifties and a perennial best seller well known all around the world. Since then millions of boys and girls have enjoyed countless hours of safe, wholesome fun playing with a Wiffle ball and bat. Esquire Magazine has even called the Wiffle Ball “a national treasure”. By producing a high quality product at an affordable price, three generations of Mullany’s have enjoyed the satisfaction and benefits of running a successful and profitable family business.
Over the years, they’ve had plenty of offers to buy them out, but they’re still working out of a small factory in Shelton, making a new Wiffle Ball every couple of seconds. Creativity and persistence are two of the important sources for wealth. If he gave up his attempts at trying new things, Mullany would not have invented the wiffle ball, nor would he have made such a big fortune.