1. Softball was originally an indoor sport. It was invented in 1887 by George Hancock, a journalist for the Chicago Board of Trade, as a form of indoor baseball to be played during the winter. The next year the game moved outside, and rules and a league were established by the Boat Club in 1889.
2. When it was reinvented as an outdoor game softball was called the “kitten ball” after the fireman Lewis Rober’s softball team “The Kittens”.
3. In the Chicago area, where softball originated, there is still a variant of the original game called 16-Inch Softball or mushball. This kind of softball uses bigger, squishier ball and no gloves.
4. Softball debuted as an Olympic medal sport in 1996. U.S. Olympic team member Dot Richardson, who hit the game winning home run in the 1996 gold medal game, is an orthopedic surgeon.
5. For every single one of the softball fastpitch games held in the 1996 Olympics, all tickets were completely sold out.
6. Softball was the first sport to be dropped from the Olympics in 69 Years. The decision to drop women’s fastpitch softball was made in 2005 and the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics were the last to have a softball medal.
However, we have great news for all the softball lovers: softball will return to the Olympics in Tokyo 2020. Back in the game!
7. The first softball wasn’t even a ball. According to the story, during a Harvard –Yale football game in Chicago, a Yale fan had thrown a rolled up boxing glove at a Harvard supporter, who hit it back with a stick. That gave George Hancock the idea to develop a ball and a bat.
8. The first world softball championship was a 1965 women’s tournament. The fun part is that it was not held in the U.S. as you would think, but in Melbourne, Australia.
9. Softball is among the safest sports in which children and adolescents participate. According to American Academy of Pediatrics,the rates of injury for softball and baseball are low in comparison with other sports. Many of the injuries can be prevented if the players follow the safety tips form the AAP and wear safety gear.
10. Today more than 40 million people play softball each summer, which makes it the number one team sport in the United States.
Bonus fun fact: Why is softball called softball?
You must have asked yourself this question numerous times, especially if you got hit in the face by one of these. The name softball dates from 1926, but there is no clear explanation where the name comes from. Some say that the name originates from the first ball, intended for indoor play, that was bigger, softer and squishier. Since then, the ball hardened but the name stuck. Others say that the name comes from the method used to pitch and the fact that it is not wound as tightly as a baseball. But other than name, there’s really nothing soft about softball.