As we all know, softball is a popular sports in the United States as well as in other countries compared before when it was just an ordinary backyard game that kids play on a Sunday afternoon. And over the years, this sports has become so popular with women that today, over two hundred and fifty seven thousand high school girls are playing softball.
But have you ever thought who invented softball? How did it come to be? And where is it so popular for people as a player as well as a spectator?
On Thanksgiving Day in 1887, there was a group of twenty men in Farragut Boat Club located in Chicago who gathered around in a gymnasium inside the building to listen to the broadcast of the Harvard-Yale football game. When Yale was declared the winner, someone saw a boxing glove, picked it up and threw it at another man who, in turn, struck it with a pole.
George Hancock, who was often attributed to inventing softball, exclaimed the words, “Let’s play ball”. And then, he fixed the boxing glove to make it look like a ball, drawn a diamond figure on the floor and broke off the broom handle to use it as a makeshift bat. What went on was an unusual similar version of a baseball game albeit a smaller one. eleven hundred and eleven years have passed and today, we consider that activity as the first ever softball game in history. If not for Hancock who became fascinated with the game after its birth, softball may have died a natural death and it would not be as popular as it is today. In fact, Hancock made the first ever ball used in the game out of an over-sized ball and he also fashioned an undersized rubber-tipped bat. At the same time, he went back to the gymnasium to paint over the sketch of a diamond he had drawn on the floor to make it more permanent. And then, he drafted the first ever set of rules of softball but called the game sport indoor baseball, which is more organized compared to baseball. From there, its popularity grew among the people until it became as what we know today.
Hancock’s indoor baseball became so popular that a league was formed in Toronto. And in 1897, the Indoor Baseball Guide, the first national publication about Hancock’s invention, was published.
In 1888, indoor baseball have been moved outdoors and players played this game on a small diamond that was known as the indoor-outdoor. Because the game got so popular, Hancock wrote a new set of rules for the indoor-outdoor in 1889.
While Chicago may be deemed as the birthplace of softball, in 1895, Lewis Rober Senior who was a fire department officer in Minneapolis was brainstorming about an activity that can keep his men busy and at the same time, physically fit during their free time. And so, he made this game that they played in a small vacant lot that was right beside the firehouse. He named his version of softball as kitten ball.
Softball is very popular not only in the United States but also in Japan, China and Australia. And as more years pass by, we can be sure that people from future generations would also love this very popular sport.