The History of Softball and Where We Are Today

By Evelyn Melvin

Softball is a game played by women, using the same equipment as baseball. In softball you play seven innings with nine people on the field at a time. According to Peter Francesconi, of sportsdestinations.com,  “the ASA registers over 245,000 softball teams, comprising more than 3.5 million players.” As one can tell, softball is one biggest sports. 3.5 million is a huge amount of girls coming out and playing the sport they love. With this many girls, one may ask, how did softball come about? Well, I am going to enlighten you on this subject today.

The according to Barbara Sorensen, of sportsrec.com, women’s softball originated in Chicago, 1895. Now it softball the game was created in 1887 by men, and played by men until the year of 1895. That is 124 years ago, that the game loved by many was started. According to athleticscholarships.net softball was not originally called softball. In fact it was called things like “kitten-ball,” “mush-ball,” and even “pumpkin-ball.” “In 1926, Walter Hakanson coined the term “softball” while representing the YMCA at a National Recreation Congress meeting, and by 1930, the term stuck as the sport’s official name,” according to athleticscholarships.net.

In 1934 the new set of rules was introduced by Lewis Rober Sr., including using a 10-12 inch ball and sometimes a 16 in ball. The players were also not allowed to use gloves.  Softball originally was meant for baseball players to have something to do in their off season, because softball was played indoors. But with many great baseball players using “softball” to help them stay fit, it gathered a rather large following. According to athleticscholarships.net, “in 1991, women’s fast pitch softball was added to the roster of the 1996 Summer Olympics—a landmark many people recognize as the ultimate success of a sport.” This was a huge accomplishment for women across the globe.

Today softball is one of the most popular sports in the country, and has secured its spot in the Summer Olympics. I have played softball since I was a little and it is one of the greatest sports to play. This sport teaches you leadership skills, how to maintain friendships, and work as a team. Softball is a team sport and cannot be played by one individual. Everyone on the field and or hitting is doing something to help their team in some way. Without all of those contributions, softball would not be what it is today.  If softball was never invented, girls today would have one less sport to make them feel empowered.

Softball has come a long way over the year. We now have travel teams that allow young girls to play softball year round. We also have college teams, and a USA team. So not only can girls play travel from 9 years old to 18, they can also play for college and the softball USA team. The sport of softball is evolving, and always changing.

As a high school athlete at James River High School, in Buchanan, I believe that softball has changed my life. I am a senior this year and I will not be playing any college or other sports after this year. Softball has helped me see that leadership is important to the others around you. I have learned so many things from my twelve years of playing this sport. Whether it is friendships or the ability to understand others, I have learned so much. I believe that if you are a young female athlete that wants to play a sport, that softball is the sport to choose. With playing softball, you learn things about the game every day. Things that you didn’t know about the game before. It is always a learning curve, and the players develop bonds with their coaches and teammates. Bonds are something that come with you throughout your life. They are something that will stick with you through life. All in all, softball is a sport that is staking its claim on the hearts of young girls around the world.