Softball is a beloved sport that is thought to have derived from baseball. However, that is not quite the case. How and when was softball invented? The answer to these questions is quite an interesting one.
The sport of softball came about as the result of a football game between Harvard and Yale. Yes, you read that right. It had little to do with baseball. The first game of softball was played on Thanksgiving Day inside a boat club, with a boxing glove and broomstick. How is that for simplicity?
History of Softball
The history of softball begins with the first game of softball that took place in 1887 at the Farragut Boat Club in Chicago, Illinois. It came about after hearing the results of a football game between Harvard and Yale. When the bets were settled, a Yale alumnus threw a boxing glove at a Harvard supporter. The supporter than took a broom and fended the glove off with it.
"Play ball!" was called out by George Hancock, the one who is credited with the game's invention. The game then began, and softball was born. It ended with a score of 41-40.
Hancock was fascinated by the game, and in the coming weeks he would develop a small bat and large ball that were to be the main components of the game. It was played indoors, and a league along with regulations were set up by the Farragut Club. This happened in 1889, and the first league started in Toronto in 1897.
The sport went through many transformations during its development to end up being what it is today. It did not even have an official name until 1926. It went through many names including 'ladies' baseball', 'indoor baseball', 'mush ball', 'kitten ball', and more. The name was settled when 'softball' was used at a National Recreation Congress meeting, and it soon became commonplace.
The Evolution of Softball
Softball has gone through many changes over the years since it began. Standardized rules were set up in 1934 by the Joint Rules Committee on Softball. Before this, a various amount of players, positions, ball sizes, and more were being used. The standardization of these rules is what really helped the sport to gain more popularity.
The size of the ball and the number of players was determined in 1934. Using a 12 inch ball, nine players were on the field at one time, no more. A lot of Chicagoans hold to the tradition of Farragut's softball size 16 with a circumference of 16 inches. This type of softball is commonly called 'cabbage ball' or 'mush ball'. Unlike competitive softball, players cannot wear fielding gloves.
It was soon recognized as an Olympic sport, establishing its legitimacy and creating one of the most popular participant sports in the United States. This happened in 1996, and it lasted until 2012 when it was removed from the games. However, that has had no effect on its popularity. 113 countries are part of the International Softball Federation, which was established in 1952.
The rules of softball are somewhat similar to those of baseball. Just because it was not formed with baseball in mind, it does not mean that it has absolutely nothing to do with the older sport. There are nine players on the field, all with different positions. These positions are: pitcher, catcher, first, second, and third basemen, shortstop, right and left fielder as well as center fielder.
Three outfielders usually hold the positions of left, right, and center. However, in slow pitch softball there is room for another player in the outfield. The game is played for seven innings and the team with the most runs at the end wins. If there is a tie, there will be extra innings until it is broken.
As one of the post popular sports in the United States, an estimated 40 million Americans play at least one game per year. Games are played year round since it can be played indoors and out. People as young as eight and as old as 60 are commonly involved in softball teams.
Co recreational game are played often, in which all of the sexes play on the same teams. However, the rules are tailored to reduce the inequalities of the gender spectrum. Coed teams are often formed in order to play for charity or benefits.
Softball is played in schools, rec teams, and even companies may have their own team. It is a great game to play with many different kinds of people. With such versatility, it is no wonder that it is so popular. It is also quite forgiving when played casually.
There are many competitions, large and small, that include softball. As mentioned earlier, women's fast pitch softball was introduced in the 1996 Olympic games, where it medaled. In 2001, a World Cup competition started up for 16 and under girls from around the world. Other championships have been around since 1965.
The history of softball is ever changing, and has undergone many modifications since its creation. However, it is still one of the most beloved sports in the country. It has also developed a following in Asia and Australia. Amateurs and professionals alike, regardless of age and athletic background, are looking forward to what is in store for America's second favorite pastime.
Between baseball and softball, softball is somewhat tamer than its counterpart in a way. In other ways, it is more intense and competitive. Regardless of what is played, the concept is the same.
Overall, the history of softball is certainly interesting. It was created because of a college football game, and rapidly grew into a national pastime. As it has grown, it has attracted other countries and has become internationally loved.
With as many as 40 million people playing, there is definitely something about softball that makes it as popular as it is. I hope you enjoyed learning about the history of softball and that you comment if you have any question at all.