A Publication of WTVP

A Game for the Ages (All of Them)

by Steve Stein | Photos by Ron Johnson |

WooshBall’s high-tech bat and unique rules ‘flip the script’ on baseball


That’s the sound made when swinging the high-tech bat used in a new game called WooshBall.

The game’s inventors say that it can be played anywhere — outdoors and indoors, in areas large and small — with different balls and rules that can be changed by the players to suit their version of the game.

It’s a perfect co-ed game. And it’s a game that can be played by people of all ages.

‘Why not make a bat that uses strings as the barrel?’ — Mike Jirik, VP of operations

Mike Jirik, Shannon Jirik and Tazio Grivetti and their new game of WooshBall
Mike Jirik, Shannon Jirik and Tazio Grivetti and their new game of WooshBall

Test runs have been positive, with players enjoying the fast-paced action.

Shannon Jirik of Hinsdale is president of the WooshBall team. Mike Jirik of Normal, her father, is vice president of operations. Tazio Grivetti of Peoria is vice president of development.

Mike Jirik is a Caterpillar Inc. retiree and Grivetti still works there. They met on the job. Shannon Jirik is the manager of a bakery.

WooshBall is all about the bat.

Mike Jirik got the idea for the bat when he was playing tennis while on vacation. On a baseball diamond next to the court, a young family was playing baseball with the kids using a tennis racket and having a blast.

“Why not make a bat that uses strings as the barrel?” Mike Jirik asked himself. He passed along the idea to Grivetti, who came up with several designs and 3D printed prototypes. More than a dozen iterations were tested.

A high-tech spin on a low-tech game

The string tension in the bat can be adjusted. A WooshBat app can be used to “tune” the bat to the desired tension. New strings might be needed eventually, but the WooshBat folks say they are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace.

Along with the new bat, rules were drawn up by the WooshBall team to create a game that puts a new spin on baseball.

‘Our game is unpredictable, and there’s more mayhem’ — Tazio Grivetti

Pre-orders are being taken for the bat while it is being tested one final time. The plan is to begin selling the bats in May.

While the bat was the genesis for WooshBall, it’s just one unique aspect of the game.

“It’s not just the bat. It’s the game itself. The bat enables the game because it’s the equalizer,” Grivetti said. “And then there’s the ball. We don’t play with a hard ball because we don’t want people getting hurt playing the game. The object is to have fun.

“You can be thrown out with the ball hitting you. That’s one of the rules. But there’s no fear of getting hurt by the ball.

“For people who don’t want to play baseball because they’re afraid of striking out or the game takes too long, we’re flipping the script, eliminating the excuses. Our game is unpredictable. And there’s more mayhem.”

Mike Jirek was careful to say that the WooshBall folks don’t want to bash baseball. They’ve simply created a baseball-type game where baseball gloves aren’t needed and there are different rules and “scalability,” his term for how the game can be adapted to different playing areas.

WooshBall doesn’t require the expensive equipment that’s needed for baseball.

“You don’t need a $150 glove or a $300 bat and bases,” Mike Jirik said. ”You just need a WooshBall bat” — which will have a $60-80 price point — “and balls. We’re going to make bases, but you can make your own.”

The big selling point for the game is that everyone can play.

“Accessibility is a huge part of WooshBall,” Shannon Jirik said. ”It’s for all ages and all skill levels. That’s what makes it special. It’s for people who aren’t drawn to athletics or sports or are constantly looking at a screen.

“When you see the game, you’re sold on it. People are having fun.”

WooshBall will be introduced at a Peoria Chiefs game at Dozer Park sometime this season. Mike Jirek and Grivetti are in talks with Chiefs officials to figure out the best way to do it.

The WooshBall creators want to hear from those who have played the game. Call (309) 200-0476 or email [email protected]. For more information on WooshBall, go to

The rules of the game

  • There are just two bases, a left base and a right base, which need to be large enough to accommodate multiple runners.
  • The distances between the bases is up to the players.
  • There are no strikeouts or walks. WooshBall is a battle between batters and fielders.
  • The pitcher has several balls and throws them quickly. They aren’t tossed back by the catcher. 
  • Batters can run to either base, but they must continue around the bases in the same direction.
  • There are no force outs. Runners advance when they feel they can make it to the next base safely. This means there could be multiple runners on the left and right bases, running in different directions.
  • Runners cannot advance on fly outs.
  • Runners tagged before they get to a base are out. The ball also can be thrown at a runner, like dodgeball. If the runner is hit en route to a base, it’s an out. Head shots don’t count.
  • Balls fielded on one bounce are out. Runners can advance on bounce outs.
  • An inning ends when a team records three outs or when a team’s hitters are on the bases and there are no remaining batters, regardless of the number of outs.
Steve Stein

Steve Stein

is a longtime Peoria area print journalist