They played with plastic bats and balls, four players to a side, and the fence line was about 150 feet from home plate. Oh, and the branches of a tree hung over the third base line, snagging foul balls and potential home runs in its branches.


But the umpires wore blue, music cues on a loudspeaker accompanied plate appearances and about 150 fans gathered in family groups while otherwise adhered to social distancing. Aside from that, it was like any other night at the ball park.


Kewanee Wiffle Ball League raised $853.88 for the Kewanee Food Pantry on Friday night at McKinley Park.


"I couldn’t be more pleased with how this turned out," said Willie Terry, who along with Simeon Campbell, were the main organizers of the effort. "Honestly, it really gave me chills to see all the families of Kewanee and the local people in the community support the food pantry. It was for a good cause and we had a good time."


The Kewanee Wiffle Ball League was what Terry and Campbell and their friends loftily called their boyhood neighborhood games a few years ago. These graduates of Kewanee High School resurrected the name for this one-time effort to raise money for a cause during the novel coronavirus.


"We were just watching our senior slideshow at my house on a projector," said Kewanee High School graduating senior Haley Heeren, who hosted a bonfire at her home last week where the idea was born. She collected donations along with classmate Gracey Damron during the event. "We were reminiscing about old times, it was that kind of night, I guess. They happened to be talking about the wiffle ball league and somehow magically remembered Twitter password and this is what it has become."


The teams were organized into their college affiliations, though all were KHS grads either this year or last. Griffin Tondreau had eight home runs and led the effort for Team Iowa, which also included Sam Burkhart, Logan Zarvell and Blaine Pickering.


Corbin VanDeSampel, Campbell, Terry and his brother, Trenton, all played for Team Illinois.


Diego Jackson, who is enlisting in the Air Force had the ceremonial first pitch and was the home-plate umpire. His job was mainly to disinfected the equipment between half-innings and keep the count. Balls that hit the standing backstop were strikes, all else were balls. TJ Arzola was the field umpire.


Oh, and the final score? Iowa in a walk, 24-14.