The History of Softball (1901-1933)

The History of Softball (1901-1933)
“The History of Softball (1887-1900)” covered the very beginnings of the sport, but it was localized in Chicago and slowly spreading in the Midwest. This second article covers the next 33 years, where Softball’s popularity and geographic footprint spreads and culminates in the 1933 World’s Fair, which hosts the first huge Softball tournament.
1901The first formal girls league was organized for indoor baseball. Reported the Chicago Tribune, "A departure was made in high school athletics yesterday afternoon, when it was decided at a meeting of managers of the girls indoor baseball teams to form a league. The teams represented in the new league, all from the West Side, are from John Marshall, Joseph Medill, and West Division. Teams have been formed at different times among the girls in these schools, but they always disbanded for the want of interest and lack of opponents." The teams played a round-robin schedule. The games went unreported in the papers, except for one story in mid-April by the Tribune, on a game between West Division and Medill. The victory by the West Division girls, said the paper, "gives them the title of champions of the Cook County League."
1904The first issue of the Spalding Indoor Baseball Guide devoted a large section of the guide to the game of women's softball, generating more interest in the women's game.
1910Softball becomes an NCAA sanctioned sport.
1913the game was officially adopted by the Minneapolis Park Board and was played in parks and on playgrounds all over the city.
1926The game finally takes on the name “softball” in 1926 after a Denver YMCA official brought the name up as a suggestion.
1933Softball makes a huge leap in popularity when a reporter from Chicago and a salesman of sporting goods made a softball tournament to go along with the World’s Fair. Leo Fischer (the reporter), and Michael Pauley (the salesman) invited 55 teams to compete in three tournament divisions: men’s fastpitch, men’s slowpitch (which used a sixteen inch softball and is a direct descendant of Hancock’s original game did not allow defensive players to wear gloves,) and women’s. A total of more than 350,000 people watched the games at the field inside the World’s Fair grounds.
The American's sports pages promoted the tournament daily and Chicago businessmen raised $500 to finance the event. On the opening day of the 1933 tournament, the Chicago American said, "It is the largest and most comprehensive tournament ever held in the sport which has swept the country like wildfire." With admission free, 70,000 people saw the 1st round of play.

Chicago teams won the 3 divisions of play with ASA National Softball Hall of Famer Harry (Coon) Rosen leading the J.L. Friedman Boosters to the men's title, one-hitting the famed Briggs Beautyware of Detroit, MI in the finals. It was the 1st loss of the season for Briggs after forty-one consecutive wins.
Also as a result of the success of the tournament, the Amateur Softball Association was founded in the fall of 1933. The Association brought rules that became standardized and were needed to the game.
Our last article will speed through the years to the present day, where Softball is the largest recreational sport in the United States, and Fastpitch Softball is played in over 120 countries.

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You Should Also Read:
The History of Softball (1887-1900)
The History of Softball (1934-Present)
Assessing Softball's Olympic Chances

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