7 surprising facts about softball

It’s not hard to see why Canadians love softball, sliding in at number 38 on the ParticipACTION 150 Play List. Here are some fascinating facts about the sport, courtesy of Softball Canada:

1. The first softball wasn’t even a ball. The story goes that in 1887, fans were gathered at a gymnasium in Chicago to receive the results (by telegraph) of a Yale/Harvard football game. In the crowd, a Yale supporter tossed a balled-up boxing glove at a Harvard fan, who struck it away with a stick. One of the men in attendance, George Hancock, thought this looked like great fun and organized an impromptu game right there.

2. Initially, softball was thought to be a good way for baseball players to hone their skills indoors during the winter months. A few years after its invention, the sport moved outside and formal rules were published. The sport had a variety of different names until the term “softball” was established in 1926.

3. In softball, the ball must be pitched underhand. While there are multiple variations of the game, the two main types are slow-pitch (sometimes spelled “slo-pitch”) where the ball is pitched in a high arc, and fast-pitch (sometimes referred to as “windmill”) where the ball travels at higher speeds in a flat trajectory.

4. A softball is not soft. It is larger and heavier than a baseball, measuring about 12 inches in circumference and weighing between 6 and 7 ounces.

5. While diamond dimensions vary based on the age and skill level of the players, a traditional softball diamond’s bases are 60 feet apart, instead of the longer 90-foot base paths seen in baseball. Pitching is of prime importance in fast-pitch softball, because the distance between the pitcher and batter (40 feet) is also shorter than in baseball (60 feet, 6 inches).

6. A softball game is seven innings long.

7. Women’s softball was first introduced as an Olympic sport in 1996 in Atlanta. At the 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney, four-time hockey gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser was a member of the Canadian women’s softball team. The sport remained in the Olympics in 2004 and 2008, but was removed for the 2012 and 2016 games. Happily, softball will be returning to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

For more information about softball – and to view Softball Canada’s brand-new logo – visit softball.ca.

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Take a Swing at the Other 149

If you like softball, you might just like a few of the other activities on the 150 Play List! Check out the rest of the list and start tracking your activities for chances to win gift cards, Fairmont trips for two, and even a brand-new Chevrolet.