Written and Media by Brianna Anderson.
How Softball Started
Softball was first introduced on Thanksgiving Day in 1887 at a Harvard–Yale football game, when a fan from Harvard hit a boxing glove that was playfully thrown at him, with a broom stick. Shortly after that, George Hancock came up with the idea of making the first ever softball by taking a boxing glove and tying it together with string. People didn’t have to use a glove to field it because it was soft. The first ever actual game was played for an hour and the score ended up 41-40. In 1889 a winter league was formed in Chicago, Ill. for people of all ages to play ball indoors. Lewis Rober was a fireman from Minneapolis that needed something to keep his men busy while waiting for a call to come in. He decided to shorten the game to seven innings. In 1913 the game was officially adopted by the Minneapolis Park Board. The first softball league outside of the United States was in Toronto in 1897. The games were mostly played by men young and old. They came up with different names for the game like Cabbage Ball, Mush Ball and Pumpkin Ball but those names were based on where the games were taking place. In 1926 the name was changed to “Softball” after a Denver YMCA official brought it up as a suggestion. In 1933, softball took a huge leap when a Chicago reporter and a salesman of a sporting goods store made a tournament at a fair. 350,000 people came to watch the games. After WWII, Canadian soldiers introduced softball to the Netherlands. In 1939, it was introduced to Australia, and in 1962 it was introduced in the UK.
Women Get To Play
In 1943, Philip Wrigley founded Women’s Softball. He owned the league from 1943-1945. After that, Arthur Meyerhoff owned it from 1945-1951. He started the league because during WWII, they had to come up with an idea to keep baseball in the public’s eye while the men were away at war. The tryouts were held in Chicago at Wrigley Field. There were five teams in the league; the Rockford Peaches, the Milwaukee Rapids Chicks, Racine Bells, South Bend Blue Sox and the Kalamazoo Lassies were all members. Two out of the five teams (Blue Sox and Peaches) stayed in their home cities for the full 12 year period.
What It Was Like For Women
The ladies played with a ball that was 12 inches in circumference and the pitchers threw underhanded from 40 feet. The bases were 65 feet apart and each team had nine players. Their uniforms were belted short sleeve dresses with a team logo on the front. They also wore ball caps that were all size fits one.
Today softball is played all around the world with all ages participating. It can be played as slow-pitch or fast pitch. It was in the Olympics until 2012. It, along with baseball, was removed for being too dangerous. It is no longer played like baseball, with the ball being bigger, the bases being closer and the use of different bats. Players no longer have to wear dresses. Today they wear baseball pants and a t-shirt top. There is now also a “Softball Hall Of Fame.”
With all of the different changes throughout the years, softball has come a long way. It was created for men and boys to play and transitioned to girls wearing dresses, to being in the Olympic games and to currently girls playing around the globe. Softball has made an impact on the world and also an impact on the lives of people who have experienced it.