What is the history of softball?
The first version of softball was invented in Chicago, Illinois in 1887 by George Hancock, a reporter for the Chicago Board of Trade, as a winter version of baseball. It was intended to be a way for baseball players to keep in practice during the winter. Yale and Harvard alumni had gathered at the Farragut Boat Club in Chicago to hear the score of the annual football game. When the score was announced and bets were paid, one person threw a boxing glove at another. The other person grabbed a stick and swung at it.Hancock called "Play ball!" and the game began. Hancock took a boxing glove and tied it into a ball. A broom handle was used as a bat. The ball, being soft, was fielded barehanded rather than with gloves like those which had been introduced to baseball in 1882. Hancock developed a ball and an undersized bat in the next week. The Farragut Club soon set rules for the game, which spread quickly to outsiders. In 1895 Lewis Rober, Sr. of Minneapolis organized outdoor games as exercise for firefighters; this game was known as kitten ball (after the first team to play it), pumpkin ball, or diamond ball. Rober's version of the game used a twelve-inch (305 mm) ball rather than the sixteen-inch (406 mm) ball used by the Farragut club, and eventually the Minneapolis ball prevailed, although the dimensions of the Minneapolis diamond were passed over in favour of the dimensions of the Chicago one. Rober may not have been familiar with the Farragut Club rules. The first softball league outside the United States was organized in Toronto in 1897. The name softball dates from 1926 (in addition to indoor baseball, kitten ball, and diamond ball, names for the game included mush ball, and pumpkin ball). Standard rules were agreed on only after the formation of the Amateur Softball Association in 1933. Sixteen-inch (406 mm) softball, also sometimes referred to as "mush ball" or "Super-slow pitch" is a direct descendant of Hancock's original game. Defensive players are not allowed to wear fielding gloves; however, a sixteen inch softball is actually soft, and can be fielded safely with bare hands. Sixteen inch softball is played extensively in Chicago, Illinois. In the 1940s, fast pitching started to dominate the game. Slow pitch was invented to give batters a better chance to hit the ball. After World War II, Canadian soldiers introduced softball to The Netherlands. In 1991, Women's fast-pitch was selected to debut at the 1996 Summer Olympics. In 2002, sixteen-inch slow pitch was written out of the ISF official rules, though still played extensively in the United States under Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) rules. The 117th meeting of the International Olympic Committee, held in Singapore in July 2005, voted to drop Softball and Baseball as Olympic sports for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
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