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Phillips Avenue Tossball Club

Nate Wek

There's a new group that's becoming quite visible in downtown Sioux Falls. One day a week they get together to play catch with a baseball and glove. They're sole purpose is just to toss the ball around.

It's called tossball - or more formally "The Phillips Avenue Tossball Club." John Boyland is the groups co-founder. He works at fresh produce in downtown Sioux Falls and he says tossball is even easier than it sounds.

"You just get together with a group of people in a field and you just toss a ball around. It really doesn’t take any talent, doesn’t take much effort. Just show up in your work clothes or however you want and throw the ball back and forth to people," Boyland says.

Really, it's just playing catch. Boyland and the rest of the toss ball club use baseballs to throw around. Boyland says they chose baseball because it is something everyone can relate to.

"Kind of like the American past time, except this is our American lunch time," the co-founder says.

Boyland says he grew up watching baseball so he has an immediate connection to it. He says for a while, the club was thinking of adding another sport to the mix.

"For a while we entertained doing a punt pass and kick contest but that just seemed a bit daunting and baseball is just more simple. It doesn’t take much money. You can go out and get a baseball glove at the thrift store," Boyland says.

Credit Nate Wek / SDPB

Tossball has been underway in Sioux Falls for a couple of months now and when the weather is nice, more people tend to show up. Boyland says on average they can have six to eight people but they have had days where 25 people turned out. Boyland says he and fellow co-workers at Fresh Produce in Sioux Falls came up with the idea.

"A bunch of us at work we wanted something to do during the work hour. Get a little bit of exercise, get some fresh air and also throw the ball around. It’s very rare as an adult you get to find someone to throw the ball around with; you can’t really do it at home I guess if you don’t have kids or someone near by," Boyland says.

He says the idea of tossball was inspired by other athletic groups around the country. Currently the only toss ball club in the nation resides in Sioux Falls. Boyland says there are some groups named after the Batman movies that actually play old school baseball games.

"There’s some big clubs up in New York and they call them like the Gothem, I think Gothem City or Gothem Baseball Club and they were the old time uniforms. The pillbox hats, and the button shirts but buttoned to the side kind of like a cheff; really interesting. These guys get together and they play old time rules where there’s certain rules like the bounce rule where if it bounces once and you catch it that’s an out. So, you know really crazy stuff. So we were inspired by that and just go back to basics and just play, Boyland says.

It doesn't cost anything and people can come and go as they please. Tossball has its regulars but it also brings in a fair share of new members. Jade Possail works with John Boyland and wanted to give Toss ball a chance.

"I’m actually an intern at Fresh Produce where they work and everyday they talk about tossball and I’ve always wondered can girls participate? So today I’m trying it out. They’ve said girls have participated in the past so they were very welcoming and just giving it a shot," Possail says.

Possail says she didn't really know what to expect.

"You know I don’t even have a glove so I’m not, I don’t really have any expectations but it’s nice to just get out and it’s a beautiful day today and I encourage more people to try it out," Possail says.

Marc Wagner is another tossball participant. He says he couldn't ignore how much fun his co-workers were having and how it continued back at the office. Wagner says it is nice too because you don’t have to be an athlete to participate.

"Yeah they spoke very highly of it. I’m a big baseball fan but I’m not very good but I can at least toss the ball back and forth," Wagner says.

Wagner says he plans to continue with weekly tossball as long as the weather cooperates. Group founder John Boyland says there has been some days where the weather hasn’t been the best. He says when it is nice though a food truck may swing by so the members can have lunch.

The tossball location is also not very hard to find. If you head downtown on Phillips Avenue towards the falls you’ll see an arch that says “Welcome to Falls Park." Just to the right of it is where tossball takes place.

Boyland says the downtown area attracts people from all over.

"We’ve had some people from the library. We had people from Click Rain, they’re kind of a internet or multimedia platform design company. We had some folks from the health department,  the Koch Hazard architecture firm, we had a gentleman from Raven he came by. So really anyone and everyone is more than welcome to come," Boyland says.

Boyland says the friendships he has made through tossball keeps the club going for him week after week.

For more information visit the Tossball website here.