What’s The Story Behind The Name Softball?

By Peter C

Softball is a popular sport in the United States and different parts of the world, but the sport uses a ball that is not entirely soft, and this has left many questioning the reason for the name.

Although the ball looks very similar to a baseball in size, being relatively softer than a baseball might be the reason for its name. While the name can be misleading, there are interesting facts to learn from the sport’s long exciting history.

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The sport’s history started in 1887 with a group of Harvard and Yale graduates who had gathered and had fun at Chicago’s Farragut Boat Club while awaiting the outcome of a football game between the two prestigious institutions. When Yale won, one of the school’s supporters tossed a boxing glove at a disgruntled Harvard guy, who whacked it with a stick.

This exchange inspired George Hancock, a reporter who witnessed the exchange, to create a new game.

Hancock tightened the boxing glove to make it more aerodynamic and urged club members to start playing an indoor baseball game. This lighter, looser version of the baseball quickly gained popularity and finally made its way outside. The game changed over time, and varied versions included a little medicine ball, a yarn-stuffed ball, or a cork ball.

However, the sport became official and got its name at a meeting of the National Recreation Congress in 1926 after Walter Hakanson, a YMCA official, made the request. Due to the fun nature of the game, the sport’s popularity grew rapidly to the point that it was one of the most popular sports in the United States in the 1930s.

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Modern softballs are often made using a synthetic or natural leather covering and a kapok fiber or polyurethane core. Although it is easy to consider the term “softball” inappropriate, it does not remove the fact that millions of people worldwide enjoy the game.