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That was a productive weekend even as we were dodging intense downpours

Saturday, I recapped my trip to the National Tractor Pull Championships before rounding up the family for a trip to the Wren Wiffle ball tournament as storms rolled across Indiana and zeroed in on west-central Ohio where they unleashed heavy downpours.

The cool thing with the Wiffle ball tournament is that it’s starting to attract Screencaps readers. Dana B. in Indiana, the TNML bus driver, and her husband have been in the past and this year Brent P. in Carmel, IN got the full experience before the rain.

There are a couple of things I rarely recommend: Mexican restaurants (if you want to start an argument at a suburban patio party, just ask a suburban wife which place is her favorite…I made that mistake once and that was my cue to shut up on the subject) and sporting events to attend.

That said, Wren, to me, is what America is all about. It’s a town that could very easily slide right off a map because it barely exists. The main intersection in town is a blinking light. According to my count, there are 2-3 functioning businesses including the Wren Restaurant where they serve Natty Light cans — no liquor license — and the food is woefully underpriced considering market conditions.

According to the menu, there are senior beer discount days. The one working television was tuned to TV Land.

50 yards to the south of the restaurant is the Wiffle ball ballpark where I witnessed a beautiful lined one-hop shot off the Eager Beaver third basemen’s hand which deflected to the left-center fielder who flew in towards the shortstop position, caught the ball in mid-air & fired to first for an out.

The crowd, which knows its Wiffle ball and how difficult it is to cover a field with four position players, a pitcher and a catcher, went nuts. After that, the rains came and my kids were at their breaking point.

• But you guys are in luck because Brent P. in Carmel, IN spent the entire day in Wren and sent me this report:

Sorry we missed you! I didn’t get your emails until this morning. As you know cell phone reception was horrible. Below is my recap of the day. Sorry, I tried to keep it short.
It is difficult to describe what we experienced yesterday. It is very similar when I try to describe the Indy 500 to people who have never been. There just are no words that replace the experience.
My wife and I set off from Indy at 8:30 in the morning. We stopped for Ice and waters for our cooler and then hit the road. We decided to take the scenic route of back roads, no interstate. We went through small towns like Redkey, Albany, Portland. Garage sales and produce stands all along the way. Funny thing is I never really noticed barn quilts before they were being mentioned in screencaps last week. They are very prevalent on in rural eastern Indiana.
Along the way we discussed our arrival and how we have no idea what we are doing, where we should park, can we bring our cooler, etc. We also discussed the game that we might be watching. What is this friendly game of adult men going to look like.
We quickly realized coolers of alcohol were not allowed so we left that in the car. We brought our lawn chairs and set up down the left field line. The first game of the day had just started and we quickly realized that these are not out of shape old men. These are 20 to 30 year old athletes! These guys were all laying it all out. Looking for some background on the tournament, I stopped a gentleman passing me as he was headed to the centerfield area. Turns out, the person I stopped was Jack Davis. Jack is part of the family that started the tournament. And current main organizer of the tournament, although he would not take credit as he pointed out several times that there a multiple integral people involved in planning and making the event happen.
In your reporting of the tournament in last year’s screencaps, I was under the impression that people came from all over to spectate the tournament. After speaking with Jack and other locals, I quickly realized that was not the case. The couple of thousand people that descend on Wrenway park practically all know each other. Jack was shocked that we drove two-plus hours to come to little Wren, Ohio. He told his wife Monica, who is also the Mayor of Wren, our story. She was equally astonished that we would drive so far to see this event. Jack and Monica were so hospitable that we felt accepted into the community immediately. The next thing you know they have me participating in the post-game activities like the musical chairs event and I was Jack’s partner in the egg toss.
Every spectator that we spoke with could not believe we would drive from Indianapolis to see this event. Everyone asked how we had heard about the event. I probably told the story of Joe Kinsey, Screencaps, and two dozen times. I have a feeling Joe Kinsey is going to be getting a key to the city in the future if this thing blows up on social media. Everyone of them asked “are you staying to the final game because this right now is nothing”, “just wait as the night rolls on it gets better and better.”
A monsoon of a storm came through and we waited out the rain under an awning with members of the “Ball Busters”. They instantly became my wife and I’s favorite team to root for. After the rain rolled through the sun came out, which gave way to the pie-eating contest by the local high school football team. After the pie-eating contest came the town parade. It was a classic middle America small-town parade. Tractors, volunteer fire department, Mayor Monica Davis, and so much candy be thrown to the kids that they stopped picking it up off the street. The local High school marching band rolled through and to my surprise one of the horn players was the football player that had just one the pie eating contest. The approximately  6’2” 260lb, either lineman or linebacker; wearing blue jeans, his shoulder pads under his jersey, was marching right along. I can’t make this up, it was pure Midwest America. Where else can you play football and be in the marching band at the same time…not in my town. One observation that struck me were the 10 to 15 boys and girls playing their own game of wiffle ball in the lot across from Wrenway park while the parade was happening. They could have cared less about the parade.
After the parade we were back to wiffle ball, beginning with the Junior wiffle ball finale. The Ohio boys dropped the first game, but it was double elimination and they held on to beat the Indiana team for the title. True to the testament of the already there fans… as the night went on, the people started piling in. By the time the championship teams were determined we were shoulder to shoulder and two, sometimes three rows deep. The “Just wait, it get’s better” was here, and it was awesome. Persevering through technical difficulties of microphone issues, the “Just wait” more than lived up to it’s billing. There was a bluegrass band there to play amazing grace, and the star-spangled banner. A video and picture montage played, displaying moments and participants from the last 30 years. The introduction of both teams had pyrotechnics and the Wrenway park mascot. It was every bit as electric as the Chicago Bulls intro back when Jordan played.
The final game went quick. Defense was on display. And in the end our favorite team the Ball Busters beat the Long Ballers for the title. The celebration had its own life. There was confetti blowing on to the field with fireworks in the backdrop while the winner was having a champagne celebration. These weren’t cheap fireworks either, they were huge.  Jack looked over to me and I gave him a thumbs up, indicating see you next year. I can’t wait for next year and I am bringing friends. This event is a perfect a TNML gathering spot. It won’t disappoint.

Weekend quick hitters:

• Next year I need to have a meeting point for Screencaps readers. It’s time to go back to the basics like it’s the 1990s before cellphones because the lack of service is a major issue. I probably need to talk to Jack about sponsoring an OutKick suite at the tournament.

• Yes, I understand there are other incredible Wiffle ball tournaments in the midwest and I need to see them. Grand Rapids, MI is on the list and I’m told there’s a big tourney in Illinois that is a must-see. Let’s build a list. I think there’s room in the Screencaps budget to make these trips a reality.

• Screencaps reader and TNML member Jon D., who works for the National Tractor Pull Association in a data analysis position, writes:

Thanks for an excellent article on the National Tractor Pulling Championships. It was, as anticipated, perfect pitch. You got it in one shot. I have shared it with several of my friends (including announcers) and the club president (Mr. Schultz, from the winners circle).

More importantly, I’m glad you and your family enjoyed themselves. If you want to know anything more about what you witnessed (well, on the track, anyway), just drop me a line.

We are so glad you came! You’ve got a pass to Pulltown as long as I work for NTPA.

Axe throwing

• Eddie from Acworth spent his weekend in the outdoors before the college football season gets fired up:

We took our youngest son and his brothers out for his 18th birthday and he wanted to go axe throwing (which I highly recommend).  We all loved it-and my wife concluded “we can do this at home”.  The NEXT day I am at Home Depot collecting wood for said project-thankful that lumber prices have fallen.  I completed it in a few hours and it was fun to build-link to plans below from a YT channel.

A word of advice though-the axe type is crucial.  It must be a razor sharp throwing axe or it won’t stick (I learned this the hard way).  Total cost was about 200 and that includes the axe. 

This is yet another reason for my older boys to come back to the homestead and see their folks.  They like to have their buddies over, make empties, and throw sharp objects at a board.  What’s more manly than that.  We added in knives and a throwing star as well.  

My wife’s philosophy (and mine because the wife is always right) at this point in our lives is to give the boys REASONS to come home. And it is working.  

Cheers and happy throwing-and as always-thanks for Screencaps. 

Lake Erie sunrise

• Harvey D. writes:

Cleaning out the pics on the phone. This is a view that not everyone would get. From the top of a nuke plant in Ohio. One of the only perks of working there. The vista’s are second to none. Seeing the deer and Bald Eagles doing their thing while busting your ass making power for America is a feeling that few will know or understand.

Making the climb to the top, is hard but worth the effort. This is why people love the North Coast. Everything has a purpose and hard work pays off. It’s not just what you do but what are the perks. Standing back at the end of a hard day and thinking I did that is what makes the makers and the builders get up and do it again.

When I drive around Ohio, I make a point to tell my Wife and Grandkids, ” I helped build that” or “my Dad built that back in the 80’s” I have realized that what I do will be ignored by future generations, but the pride and satisfaction in what I have done will last for generations. 

Here’s an email to get you fired up on a Monday morning

• Drew L. writes:

After a long frustrating housing search in a very expensive very crowded area of the DC suburbs, a miracle happened and I found an affordable house for rent with a yard! I’ve never had my own yard before. So I’m looking for beginners advice from all your mowing league experts. 

I don’t have any lawn care gear of my own, but the landlord said he had a small push mower that he would have repaired and return it to me if I wanted to use it. In the meantime, we’re continuing with his lawncare service that mows every two weeks. 

Thanks and keep up the great work!

Mowing advice for Drew:

• Mow on Thursdays once you get a mower

• Get a comfortable lawn chair…aim that chair out into the yard so it’s the focus of your eventual goal of owning a house…grab a drink and be proud that you’re heading in the right direction in life

• Make sure to take one last look at the yard as the sun is setting; that final look is what you should see before going to bed…it’ll provide calm

Now, let’s go out and destroy this final Monday before college football. Have a great day and never forget how great this country can be.


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Written by Joe Kinsey

Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America.

Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league.

Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.


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