Saturday, December 3, 2022

A Brief History of Softball: Inception to National Recognition

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Baseball has long been known to be “America’s pastime.” The famous sport was first invented in 1846 after the first official baseball game was played by the Knickerbockers and a cricket team. Since that inception day, the sport quickly evolved and became one of the most widely played and watched sports of all time.

This factoid is quite readily known, but what about softball? What about its history, how did it begin, and what led to it becoming the number 1 team participant sport in the United States?

Let’s take a look at a timeline of the history of softball, closely admiring the beginning and advancement of one of the most classic sports of all time.

1887- The first softball game was played indoors at the Farragut Country Club in Chicago, Illinois. There was a Harvard-Yale football game going on and when a group of Harvard and Yale alumni received news that Yale had won, one Yale supporter begrudgingly threw an old boxing glove at a Harvard alumnus, who tried to hit it back at him with a stick.

George Hancock, a reporter for the Chicago Board of Trade, saw the scene and was struck– not with the boxing glove but with inspiration. He used the boxing glove as a ball after tying the laces together, then used chalk to draw a home plate, the bases, and the pitcher’s box in the gym. Because the ball was so soft, players didn’t use softball gloves until years later.

1888- Hancock moved his sport outdoors, specifically to fields that were too small for baseball.

1889- Hancock’s 19 appended rules were recognized by the Mid Winter Indoor Baseball League of Chicago and officially adopted.

1895- Lewis Rober, a Minneapolis Fire Department lieutenant, had used the game to keep his unit in shape, but had used an empty lot, made the pitcher’s box 35 feet from the plate, and used a small medicine ball for the ball. Rober transferred, but brought the game to his new firehouse and named his team “The Kittens.”

1900- George Kehoe, who was the captain of Truck Company No. 1, gave the version of softball from Rober the new name of “The Kitten League Ball.” Then, it was shortened to just “Kitten Ball.”

1925- The sport was titled “Diamond Ball” by the Minneapolis Park Board. From 1900 to 1925, it was called by numerous names, including Kitten Ball, Indoor Ball, Playground Ball, Diamond Ball, Pumpkin Ball, Recreation Ball, Mush Ball, and many others.

1926- Walter Hakanson, a former ASA president and commissioner, came up with the name “Softball.”

1933- Efforts were made to make softball a national sport. Leo Fischer and Michael J. Pauley came up with the idea for organized softball teams throughout America.

1943: Philip Wrigley founded Women’s Softball to keep baseball in the public eye during WWII.

1991: Women’s fastpitch softball was added to the 1996 Summer Olympics.

HB Sports: Honoring Tradition with Quality Softball Gloves, Bats, and Other Gear
Softball has risen to be one of the most popular sports in America, as it is loved and played by all: young and old, men and women. When looking for the most reliable softball gear, from softball gloves to softball accessories, trust in HbSports to provide you with what you need to keep the enamoring softball tradition alive and well. Play ball!

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