After a spectacular football career at Bentley University, Dallas Mall had a competitive void to fill. He switched over to Wiffle ball, played professionally across the country, and became a star.
The Wiffle seed was planted when Mall and his brother Richie played the game in their Northborough backyard. The 31-year-old Mall plays for prize money now. He plays for titles in the Golden Stick League, traveling the country looking for action. It’s an interesting transition, from the Friday night lights to the quirky Wiffle ball fields. Mall has had astounding success at both.
At Bentley, he was a record-setting receiver. The numbers are mind-boggling: 78 touchdown passes on 283 receptions and 4,347 yards.
He had 24 touchdowns as a freshman at the Waltham school, breaking the all-divisions record held by Randy Moss. Yes, that Randy Moss! No surprise then that Mall, who played football and basketball at Algonquin Regional in Northborough, was recently enshrined in the Northeast-10 Conference’s athletic hall of fame.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Mall, who received the citation Saturday during halftime of Bentley’s home game against American International College.
The Mall brothers built a miniature Fenway Park for their Wiffle games at home. It was for their amusement only. That was about to change.
“Some kids from Westborough saw us playing,” said Mall. “They played in tournaments.”
The Mall brothers and a friend from Northborough, Adam Maloney, started playing with the Westborough guys. They kept winning. Mall’s reputation grew in 2005 when his pitching and hitting opened a lot of eyes in a tournament in Hopkinton that attracted 175 teams.
Mall became a power pitcher with “a screwball that drops and moves three feet. It makes major-league pitching look like Little League,” he said.
Playing in the one-man version, Mall competes in about 25 tournaments a year in New England and across the country. Tournaments will pay Mall’s traveling expenses if he wins a regional, otherwise there’s a fee (about $100) to enter a tournament.
“Money-wise we’re quite a bit ahead,” said Mall, reflecting on the success he’s had with Adam Trotta of Milford in two-player competitions. Trotta had his own team, Doom. He signed up Mall.
“Adam and I have won about 115 tournaments,” said Mall. “I definitely think it’s a sport that’s going to grow, especially fast-pitch. A top-tier fast-pitch pitcher can hit 80 miles per hour from 46 feet. I think it’ll be on ESPN.”
His Wiffle ball passion can be time-consuming. “Yeah, I hear it from my wife,” he said. Mall and Angela (they were high school sweethearts) live in Holden and have three children. He is a customer support manager in Northborough.
Mall, named Dallas because his dad was a big Cowboys fan, has been on five national championship teams, and has twice won the Ultimate Wiffler tournament, a one-on-one competition. He plays on more multiplayer teams these days.
As a kid, basketball came first. “I always had a basketball in my hand,” he said. “That was my sport.” He didn’t start playing football until his junior year, but hauled in 17 touchdown passes from Marc Eddy that first season.
A Thanksgiving win over Westborough underscored the Eddy-to-Mall connection. “I think Marc threw for six touchdowns and 400 yards in the first half. I had five touchdowns. We were on the bench in the second half.”
At Bentley, they teamed up again, after Mall attended Worcester Academy for a year.
“Bentley kept calling,” he said. The Falcons went to the NCAA playoffs twice with Mall catching Eddy’s bombs.
The 6-foot-3 Mall was a Division 2 All-American in 2004 as a senior, when he also received the Division 2-3 Gold Helmet award as the best player in New England. He also shared Bentley’s outstanding male athlete award.
No player in NCAA history has caught more touchdown passes.
“I remember so many instances of Dallas making insane catches in big moments, often double-, and on occasion, even triple-covered, that we started to take his ability for granted,” said Bentley coach Thom Boerman.
“He was the most feared receiver in the league. I personally think that Dallas would have made a fine NFL player.”
His athletic success has endured. But Wiffle ball? Who knew?Lenny Megliola can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.