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Text on Button Softball
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Brown baseball with brown text on a white background

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The well-known sport, softball, began in 1887 when Yale and Harvard alumni gathered in Chicago, Illinois, at the Farragut Boat Club. The alumni were waiting for the results of the Yale versus Harvard football game on Thanksgiving. Legend has it that when Yale won, a Yale grad “playfully threw” a boxing glove at a Harvard grad and the Harvard grad swung the glove with a stick. George Hancock, a reporter for the Chicago Board of Trade, called out, “Play ball!” and, so, softball began. The Farragut Boat Club created rules for the game not long after and news of the game leaked to others in Chicago, eventually becoming known throughout the Midwest. Walter Hankason coined the term softball in 1926 during a National Recreation Congress meeting.

In Chicago, there are currently two versions of the game of softball, both with different size balls, taken from different iterations of this original game. Primarily, softball is played with a 12-inch diameter ball, but the variation using the 16-inch diameter ball is still played today.


Athnet Get Recruited to Play College Sports. (N.d.). “History of softball”.

Catalog ID SP0101