History Of Softball

Softball History

Softball is a popular American sport that started in the 19th century and became organized in the early 20th century. Though most people know it as an offshoot of the great sport of baseball, not many know the sport’s origins and early history. Read on to learn how softball was invested and slowly progressed into the national pastime it is today.

Softball History Timeline

Softball has a pretty long history with many changes over the years. Softball was originally played with a boxing glove and a broom handle. Now, players typically use leather mitts, metal alloy or composite bats, and rubber and cork softballs.

Here is a timeline of some of the most important events for you to remember when it comes to the sport:

  • 1887: The first iteration of softball was invented by George Hancock and his friends while watching a Harvard vs. Yale football game. 
  • 1889: Hancock creates rules to be used by the “Mid Winter Indoor Baseball League of Chicago,” but the game spreads through the fire departments in the area.
  • 1990: The game becomes known as “kitten ball” and moves outdoors.
  • 1926: Walter Hakanson comes up with the name of “softball,” which is the first to become official.
  • 1934: The Amateur Softball Association is officially recognized by the National Recreation Congress. Rules were formalized, and the game was truly nationalized.
  • 1965: The first international softball tournament, the Women’s Softball World Championship, is held in Australia. 
  • 1982: The first College World Series of Softball was played.
  • 1996: Softball becomes an Olympic sport.
  • 2004: The first professional fastpitch league was formed in the United States.
  • 2012: Softball is no longer recognized as an Olympic sport.
  • 2021: Softball rejoins the Olympic Games as a sport.


Which country started softball?

Softball originated in the United States. The game was first played in Chicago, Illinois, but quickly spread around the midwest and the world. It was added to the Olympic Games from 1996-2008, and the U.S. took 3 of the four possible gold medals at that time, with Japan winning in 2008.

Who invented softball?

George Hancock is the inventor of softball. In November of 1887, Hancock and his friends were watching a Harvard vs. Yale football match together in the Farragut Boat Club. One of his fellow viewers tossed a boxing glove at another, who swung at it with a broom handle. They then played a full match using a boxing glove as a ball and the broom handle as a bat, and a game was created. Hancock and other players also created the official rules of softball in 1934.

When was softball established?

Softball was invented in 1887 and became known as ‘softball’ in 1926 at a National Recreation Conference meeting. As you learned earlier, official rules were being put into place by 1934, with positions being named and official dimensions of fields and softballs being decided upon, thanks to the formation of the Amateur Softball Association. By 1952, the International Softball Federation was formed, and modern rules were established, based mostly on those already created for baseball. Forty-four years later, in 1996, it would become an Olympic sport for the first time. Today, more than 40 million Americans play softball each year, whether it be recreationally, competitively, or professionally.

Softball truly became a national sport in 1934, when teams around the country were formed, playing with official rules and a better understanding of how the game worked. Hundreds of leagues popped up around the country, mostly due to the sport’s promotion by the Amateur Softball Association. Thousands of people across the country began playing the sport, and many women were beginning to participate since they were typically not allowed to play baseball. Now, millions of people participate in the sport and have kept it a popular option for girls and women around the world.