When the very word sports is uttered by people, the very first few examples of which that come to mind are football, basketball, and baseball. While these are very great examples of different kinds of sports, there is one which you may have already seen played and may have possibly mistaken it for another sport. Softball is one such sport which deserves a second look not because it plays just like another game altogether, but because even with its similarities it is a unique and interesting game in itself.
What is Softball?
Softball, as some of you might have guessed, is the game which plays a lot like baseball and is in fact considered as a variant of that sport. But just because it’s a variant of baseball doesn’t mean it plays exactly like so. It has some slight yet brilliant differences which breathe life to it anew, making it a completely different ball game, pun intended.
To give you some idea of its difference with baseball, know that softball makes use of a relatively larger ball when compared to its more popular brother. Despite having a larger ball, the field is surprisingly a lot larger than that of baseball. Of course, the differences do not end there as softball was actually intended to be played indoors and is in fact deemed as indoor baseball by some.
History of Softball
While, yes, softball looks and plays a lot like baseball, you’d be surprised to know that the sport was born due to a football game. Back during the Thanksgiving Day of 1887 in Chicago, some alumni of Yale were gathered together to await the result of a football game between their alma matter and Harvard. When the result was announced, Yale won, and because of the victory an alumnus good-humoredly threw a supporter of the opposing team a boxing glove which had been all balled up. A Harvard supporter hit the glove using a broom handle which sent it flying. These simple and fun actions were the start of the very first softball game.
Members of the Farragut Boat Club who were there decided to make their own rules of how the game will be played. The game which all started quite nonchalantly spilled out of Chicago and spread like wild-fire to the rest of Midwestern U.S. Through the years, its name changed, getting different aliases such as “pumpkin ball,” “kitten ball,” and “indoor baseball.” Finally, in 1926, the game finally got itself a name – softball, thanks to Walter Hakanson who coined it. The name softball was used when Hakanson represented the YMCA at a certain National Recreation Congress. By 1930, the name became permanent.
However, despite having an official name, there wasn’t any solid set of rules for one to play the sport with. That was true until 1934 rolled in and the Joint Rules Committee on Softball came in to create standardized rules for it. While the very first game was played using a “ball” with a 16-inch circumference, Lewis Rober Sr. made the standard ball’s size to be 12 inches. His decision to make the ball 12 inches stuck as the preferred softball size and so it came to pass that until today the sport is played using balls that are 10 to 12 inches in circumference.
While it does indeed look a lot like baseball, it was not until 1991 when the women’s fast pitch softball was recognized to be a part of the 1996 Summer Olympics – the ultimate recognition of a sport. Unfortunately though, softball was later dropped from the Summer Olympic lineup of 2012. Even though it was dropped, the sport of softball is something that is now enjoyed across the globe by its droves of followers.
Now that you have gotten to know the sport of softball a little bit better, it is only proper to give you an introduction to the items which you will need to play it:
- Bat – look for bats which have the Amateur Softball Association of America certification mark, these bats should not be longer than 34 inches and should weigh no more than 38 ounces. Experts often recommend using an aluminum softball bat in playing the game.
- Ball – a softball is typically colored white or yellow and has a circumference of 11 to 12 inches.
- Glove – while it is possible to use a baseball glove to play softball, you should know that baseball gloves are made for 9-inch circumference balls. Softball gloves are relatively bigger but should not exceed 14 inches in length, which is measured from its bottom edge to the first finger’s top.
- Protective Gear – mask are typically worn by catchers, while protective cups can be worn by male players, if they so choose to do so.
How to Play Softball
Playing softball is a lot like baseball but with many different tweaks. For one, the ball in softball is pitched underhand, among many other differences. Softball also has some subtypes: slow pitch softball is played coed and the ball is normally thrown slowly; fast pitch softball on the other hand is played by women and as the name implies, the ball is quickly pitched.
Some other basic rules that you should know about softball is that one game is made up of seven innings, each of which has two halves. Players in softball also have different, very specific positions on the field. Players are spread out in specific places of the field, infield, and outfield.
If you are a person who is looking for a change of pace from the usual sport, why not give softball a go? It’s a sport which is unique but still has an air of familiarity to it so you can pick it up quite easily. For casual players, baseball gear will do. Just brush up on the basics of this sport and you will be good to go. Once you start playing softball, you will surely come to realize why it spread through different countries. Now that you know more about softball, try and play it, you will surely enjoy this sport!