Softball is a sport that is quite similar to baseball, but uses a much larger ball and is played on a field that is smaller in size. It was originally conceived as an indoor game, but is typically played outdoors. How many of these softball facts did you know?
- While softball was invented in 1887, it didn’t get its name until 1926: The name softball was assigned to the game for an obvious reason, as the ball is softer than the variety used in baseball. Prior to that, it was known by a wide range of names, including kitten ball!
- There are a few variety of softball that are typically played: These include slow-pitch softball, fastpitch softball and modified softball. All three varieties are similar but have slight variations in the rules.
- According to legend, the first ever game of softball was played in 1887, on Thanksgiving Day: The match took place in Chicago and started completely by accident after a boxing glove was thrown at a man holding a stick!
- The following week, one of the participants in the first impromptu game, George Hancock, worked on creating a ‘real’ ball for the game: The initial boxing glove used in the first match was not deemed appropriate for future matches.
- The initial appeal of softball was that it was seen as a sport that professional baseball players could participate in over winter to keep up their skill level: This is reflected in an early name for softball, namely ‘indoor baseball’.
- New Zealand’s has the world’s most successful men’s softball team: Their national men’s team won their seventh world softball championship in 2017, the most of any nation around the world.
Fun Softball Facts:
- Softball has been featured in several past edition of the Summer Olympic Games: It was contested in the Games held between 1996 and 2008, but was dropped in 2012. However, it will reappear at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
- The inclusion of softball at the 1996 Olympic Games was the result of a campaign that had begun in the 1940s: Since that time, various nations – primarily the US and Japan – had been working to try and get softball featured in the Olympics. The persistence would finally pay off at the Atlanta 1996 Games.
- However, the victory would be short lived, with the sport only being contested at the 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 games: In 2006, during planning for the 2012 London Olympics, it became the first sport to be removed from the schedule in 69 years (the last one to be cut was polo back in 1936).
- Since softball debuted at the 1996 Olympics, the United States has been the dominant nation on the medal tally: The US has won 3 of the 4 gold medals, with Japan the only other nation to win a gold. Australia and China both have won a silver each.