With the summer softball season in full swing, the timing seems perfect for this new addition to the museum collection. A bit flattened, the approximately 13” diameter leather softball came from the estate of a resident of Pike Creek Township in Morrison County, Minnesota. It’s hard not to imagine the games played using this ball on long summer days when time seems wonderfully endless and all that’s needed is to find enough people to play a game of ball.
Softball is believed to have started in 1887 on Thanksgiving Day in Chicago when a group of men hanging out at the Farragut Boat Club decided they wanted to play a game of baseball indoors. The men suposedly found a boxing glove, which they tied up into a ball, and used a broomstick for a bat. Similar to baseball, softball is played on a smaller field, has fewer innings and is pitched underhand.
Also known as mush ball, indoor-outdoor ball, playground ball, diamond ball and kitten ball, the game quickly spread across the nation and the world. By 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, the Amateur Softball Association of America had been established. The next year, a Joint Rules Committee on Softball was created and less than two decades later, in 1952, the International Softball Federation was formed. Extremely popular, softball takes place almost anywhere, from backyard lots to professional athletic fields. It will be played once again at the Summer Olympic Games in 2020.