Softball’s history is rich, deep, and interesting. Even the most avid softball fan has likely missed out on some amazing facts about this beloved sport.
While there are some well-known softball facts, there are many more facts that will amaze you. Here are 15 softball fun facts that you might not know.
Softball Fun Facts
1. George Hancock invented softball.
Prior to being the classic sport we know today, the game of softball was created in Chicago in 1887. A Chicago Board of Trade journalist, George Hancock is said to have created the sport which was originally meant to be a winter version of baseball played indoors.
2. The first softball was not a ball.
Softball was created while waiting for the results of a football match between Yale and Harvard. George Hancock, a Yale supporter threw a balled-up boxing glove at someone rooting for Harvard. As the Harvard supporter grabbed a stick and swung at the balled-up boxing glove defending himself, an instant classic was born.
3. The first rules for softball were published in 1889.
First played in 1887, the first accepted rules of softball were published in 1889 by George Hancock due to the sport’s mass appeal.
4. Walter Hakanson coined the term “softball”.
YMCA member Walter Hakanson is credited for coining the term “softball” at the annual meeting of the National Recreation Congress in 1926 to name the sport and has spread popularity across the United States by 1930.
5. Softball has gone through a lot of name changes.
Although now called softball, this sport has gone by a number of different names. It’s evolved to stay relevant over the years. Now, it represents everything good and necessary about the game.
Softball has been given a number of different names which include mushball, kitten ball, diamond ball, indoor baseball, pumpkin ball, cabbage ball, ladies baseball, and a whole lot more.
6. There are two types of softball.
There are two main types of softball played which are fast pitch and slow pitch. The difference lies in their names.
In slow pitch, the pitcher is required to pitch a slow, winding ball to the batter which makes it a better type of softball for beginners.
On the other hand, instead of pitches being lobbed in an arc to the batter, fastpitch softball pitchers usually throw underhand with speed. The result is a game that requires a higher level of athletic skill than its slow-pitch counterpart.
7. Chicago still plays mush ball.
In Chicago, the birthplace of softball, a variation of the original game called 16-inch softball or mushball is still played today.
A softball that is larger and softer, resembling a boxing glove is used to play this game. There are also no fielding mitts used to catch and field the ball just like how it is played back in the day.
8. Softball is played around the world.
Softball is currently played in over 140 countries across the globe on every continent, showcasing the international appeal of this sport. While the game began in the United States, it soon spread beyond.
9. Softball was taken out of the Olympics after only 12 years.
Softball was a staple in the 1996 Summer Olympics and was first played in Atlanta, Georgia, United States., however, it didn’t last for long. The Olympic Committee removed softball from the Olympics in 2008, leaving many people to mourn the loss of their favorite sport.
It’s currently not in the Olympics, but there are several efforts from softball enthusiasts to reintroduce Softball as a Summer Olympics sport.
10. International softball games are still being held today.
While softball is no longer an official Olympic Sport, Softball World Championships are still present to this day hosting international games for both men’s and women’s softball. The women’s fastpitch softball championship is held every even year, while the men’s championship is held in odd years.
The Pan-American Games also showcase softball as one of the sports held every four years. Likewise, ASA hosts World Cup tournaments every year.
11. The first Women’s Softball World Championship was held in 1965.
The first women’s fastpitch championship was held in 1965 in Melbourne, Australia. The host country, Australia won the competition with an impressive winning streak hauling the trophy after winning the five-team competition.
12. There are 197 softball players recognized in the Hall of Fame.
The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) maintains a Hall of Fame for softball players. This program honors softball greats, past and present.
As of now, a total of 197 players have been inducted into the ASA Hall of Fame for softball excellence which includes players from as early as 1941.
13. One player in the Hall of Fame is a 16-Inch softball player.
Out of the 197 players in the Hall of Fame, Eddie Zolna is the only player who played Chicago-style 16-Inch Softball which was instated in 1989. A former pitcher for the Bobcats, he won 12 national titles throughout his career and was MVP three times in national championships.
14. The first no-hitter in a Softball Olympics game was in 2000.
The first softball no-hitter in the Olympics was pitched by Lori Harrigan of the United States during the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. She is an American softball player who is a sure bet to remember setting the record against Canada in women’s fastpitch softball.
15. Softball is reportedly to be one of the safest sports.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that softball has one of the lowest rates of injury compared to other sports. In addition, many of the injuries reported can be eliminated with safety gear and following the safety suggestions of the AAP.
Famous Softball Players
Softball has produced many talented players throughout its history. Here are some notable softball players and their achievements:
- Lisa Fernandez: A three-time Olympic gold medalist, Fernandez is considered one of the best pitchers in softball history. She also won two NCAA championships while playing for UCLA.
- Jennie Finch: Another legendary pitcher, Finch led the United States to a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics. She was also a two-time National Player of the Year at the University of Arizona.
- Cat Osterman: Osterman is a left-handed pitcher who won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics and a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics. She also won two NCAA championships while playing for the University of Texas.
- Dot Richardson: Richardson was a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a two-time National Player of the Year at UCLA. She also played on several World Championship-winning teams.
- Jessica Mendoza: Mendoza was a standout player at Stanford University and played for the United States at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She later became a broadcaster for ESPN.
Softball has been a popular sport since the 19th century and is truly a fun sport across the globe.
This article is about all sorts of fun facts related to softball. I hope you enjoyed reading it.
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