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  • Writer's pictureWritten by Joshua Smith

#WiffleCrushWednesday: Jeremy Litton

This edition of #WiffleCrushWednesday features someone whom I have great respect and admiration for, Jeremy Litton. He not only was a league co-founder but also a league rules committee member for the first 4 seasons, a teammate of mine in 2013, the original producer of the HWL podcast, ambassador for the league, and voice of reason during moments of indecision for the committee. Everyone knows who Greg Sowards, Patrick Rayl, and I am but a lot of people have a blank expression on their face when they hear the name Jeremy Litton. And I think that's a gross injustice considering that he is a man that made many important (albeit silent) contributions to the formative years of the league.

Like many or the players from the inaugural 2012 season, Litton was a transplant from the old league in Hurricane. He was the first to sign on for the season and played with me on my first franchise, the Terrorhawks. We went 5-12 that year and we were absolutely dreadful. Jeremy and I were the only players on the team but he never stood me up a single week, to date he may be the most faithful teammate I've ever had the pleasure of playing with. He showed up religiously to take those beatings with me and never seemed to let the fact that his successes in the sport were meager bother him. That strength of character was something I both never understood and also admired.

His character would be tested the following season as he was called upon to captain a team of his own as the league expanded. I knew he had the commitment necessary to be a dependable captain. He recruited and built a team entirely on his own with no assistance. Unfortunately, his team (the Welfare Warriors) went on to become the least successful franchise in league history, finishing with a dismal 2-22 record. Their season was so catastrophic that it was the primary topic of discussion on the very first episode of the HWL Podcast entitled "The View From The Bottom" where we interviewed him to get his take on the season. That year I saw his patience tested on a weekly basis as he struggled to maintain control of his team. By the late half of that season, he struggled to get the team to the field overall, and by the playoffs he could not field a team at all. Had that been anyone else, it would have been a certain exit.

In 2014, he was ready to do whatever was necessary to be a help to the league. He originally was slated to become a member of the Green Bears, a team that Greg and I assembled from the remains of our franchises the previous year. But we figured since all three of us were on the rules committee, it was a bad idea to have us all on the same team. Luckily, Wee Willy Wiffle was in need of another player and he gladly filled the spot. Performance-wise, Litton struggled as much as he always did. Over his 5-season career he has only hit one home run, a statistic he is willing to talk about at any moment. Most people would be frustrated with such limited success and quit, but he doesn't care about winning or personal statistics. He's played for the right reasons: as an excuse to hang out, crack jokes, and make some memories.

Although Litton never made a name for himself on his prowess as a player, he was front and center throughout the metamorphosis the league went through those first few years. He was the first to support switching to yellow bats and always had fresh takes on the podcast and in committee meetings. He was always down with going to Waffle House on 29th Street after games and never talked down about anyone, even if they deserved it. While Greg and I were always concerned with growing the league and taking everything "to the next level," Litton retained focus on what made playing fun, rather than super competitive. When everything would get all serious and high and mighty, he would bring everyone back down to Earth with the realization that this is just a game and if anyone is trying to make it about anything more than that - they're a fool.

As the seasons passed, he played less and less due to work commitments. In 2015, he only played on a need-be basis for a few games with the Plain White Tees, another franchise famous for a colossally bad season. When they struggled to get the minimum amount of players together, Litton stepped in so that they would not have to forfeit. He also served as league photographer that year and remained a part of the HWL Podcast as a co-host and producer. In 2016, he played 3 games for Wifflin' Dixie (where he finally hit his first and only career home run) and produced and directed Wiffle Talk Hour - a hour long video program that featured highlights and analysis of the league. That program may be his greatest contribution to date, and more episodes were planned but never recorded. It's a project he and others hope to revive at some point.

Litton has yet to make an appearance (as a player) in 2017. It's a sad milestone to consider but if he does not participate this year it will be a league-first "Litton-less" season. However, Litton did make a surprise appearance on the latest episode of the HWL podcast as a guest. He has signed on to co-host the upcoming 32nd episode in his classic thematic shtick motif. This time he'll be using 32-bit music to echo previous episodes like Episode 8 (the "8-bit episode") and Episode 16 (the "16-bit episode"). I hope he gets in the batters box at least once this year so we can avoid a season without him because I don't want to imagine a HWL where there is no Jeremy Litton, because without him there would not have been a HWL.

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