The history of Softball
As its name suggests, Softball, which is a variation of baseball; that is played with a softer ball and a smaller field. Softball is one of the most watched and played games, whether for fun or as a profession- it remains the old standby game for many company picnic events. It has quite similar rules to baseball except some obvious differences like the pitches being thrown underhand, unlike baseball where pitches are thrown overhand. Oddly enough this game is also played more by women than men but don’t let that fool you- these girls can play just as tough. So- to be able to appreciate the beauty of this game, it’s important to look back at its beginnings and how it has evolved over the years.
Its history dates back to Thanksgiving Day, 1887- in of all places, Chicago. It started when a group of 20 young men had gathered in the Farragut Boat Club gym eagerly awaiting the results of a football game between Harvard and Yale. After Yale had won the game, one of the young men jokingly threw a stray boxing glove to another- who then hit it with a walking cane. George Hancock, who was a young enthusiastic reporter at the time, was the first to exclaim “Let’s play Ball!”, and tied up the boxing glove into a sphere, broke-off a broomstick handle, and used chalk to make line markings on the floor. That night an epic game took place which lasted for an hour, with the score ending in 41-40. Since Hancock was fascinated with this game he further went on to write down the rules. His intention was to make a bigger softer ball and a bat that featured a rubber tip. The result was enormous which allowed the game of baseball to be played on a smaller field with similar effort. It worked, as Lewis Robert Sr. decided to take the concept of the game outside a vacant lot in Minneapolis to allow firefighters exercise and pass time as they waited for an alarm.
The first league of the game was held in Toronto in 1897. The game generated a lot of excitement and it started spilling over as a new sporting craze. Some of the weirder names given to this new game included ‘mush ball’, ‘diamond ball’, ‘kitten baseball’ and ‘indoor baseball’. However- it was Walter Hakanson who coined its name (as it is known today), back in 1926 at a National Recreation Meeting while representing YMCA.The first ever national amateur tournament took place in 1933. Leo Fischer, wrote about the game and he was one of those who helped in the formation of the Amateur Softball Association. Since then, Softball began its steady rise and started spreading to other parts of the world. Its rise in popularity has been attributed to American Servicemen, who in World War II, played this game across the globe and were even teaching locals how to play it. This led to the formation of a world governing body known as International Softball Federation, which held its first meeting in 1952. The first world championship took place in Australia in 1965, when Women's teams from 5 countries took part. A year later, the Men's event took place in Mexico. One notable Women's softball event included the introduction to the 1996 Olympic Summer Games which won a medal for the USA.