Softball: An Underhanded Way to Play
Created on Thanksgiving Day in 1887 as an ad hoc game of indoor baseball, softball has grown immensely over the past 120 years. Today it’s one of the most popular team sports in the United States, with more than 15 million Americans participating every year. We’ve compiled our favorite Web sites to help you learn about the game, follow competitive softball, and play the game yourself.
From a way to keep Chicago firemen busy during the bouts of inactivity between calls to an Olympic sport, softball’s rules, regulations, and style of play have grown and developed with the sport’s popularity. With this section we’ll provide sites that narrate the story of softball’s birth and expansion, and sites that outline its rules.
- Softball consists of three main types: fast pitch, modified fast pitch, and slow pitch. Although the basics remain the same for each, there are some differences regarding field size, base runners, etc.
- Fast pitch is sometimes spelled as one word; this guide will use two words, except in the names of organizations that spell it as one word. But if you use a search engine to find softball information, try your search with both spellings.
- Softball rules often vary slightly between professional and college leagues, and can vary greatly between amateur leagues. For example, more-competitive amateur leagues typically allow stolen bases and unlimited runs, while many recreation-focused leagues put restrictions on the offense, and coed leagues have diverse rules about how many women and men need to play and where they can be positioned on the field and in the batting order.
- The rules sites recommended in this section give guidelines for how softball is generally played. If you are looking more in-depth rules, look for specific league rule books, which can be found on official league Web sites listed in the “Where can I find information on international and professional softball leagues?” and “Where can I find an amateur softball league to play in?” sections.
For an overview of the rules …
teaches you all the softball essentials. Position descriptions, a diagram of the field, and definitions of the sport’s most widely used terms makes this guide useful for beginners, but definitely too basic for experienced players.
Mom’s Guide to Sports
is dedicated to educating those mothers who dutifully attend the games, matches, and contests of their children without knowing exactly what’s going on. Although this site has extremely basic information, we’ve linked to the “Common Signals” section because of its useful diagrams of frequently used umpire signals.
The International Softball Federation
is the best source for a more detailed softball rulebook. It features rules for fast pitch, slow pitch, and modified softball, as well as rules for arena and wheelchair softball. Each rulebook is in PDF format.
is an online sports community Web site that allows users to participate in and read discussion forums about sports. Its “Softball Rules” discussion board contains an abundance of insightful comments about the intricacies of softball rules. Plus, if you ever have a question, you just have to post it and receive an answer.
For the history of softball …
highlights softball’s impressive evolution from baseball’s indoor cousin to a worldwide sporting phenomenon. This article starts with the events that led to softball’s creation in 1887 and follows the game’s explosive popularity in the 120 years since.
, the official Web site of the International Olympic Committee, not only covers the general history of softball, but also its ascension to Olympic status. This site has a glossary of technical terms and a list of the equipment necessary to play.
The International Softball Federation
’s Softball Hall of Fame features short biographies of the world’s best softball players since 1981. This site also has rulebooks for slow pitch, fast pitch, modified fast pitch, arena, and wheelchair softball in its “Rules and Standards
The Amateur Softball Association
’s National Softball Hall of Fame focuses on the best players in American softball history by supplying biographies of its inductees dating back to 1941. The site also has an online tour
feature with panoramic views of its main attractions.
The King and his Court
are a barnstorming softball team started in 1946 and made up of four players who challenge nine-man teams. They are famous for pitcher Eddie Feigner, the King himself, who could throw over 100 miles per hour and struck out major leaguers like Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente. Feigner passed away in 2007, but the team continues to travel the country. The official site includes a brief history of the team along with a tour schedule, news coverage, and memorabilia. For more information on Eddie Feigner, read Doug Lyons’ biography, From an Orphan to a King
The Pekin Lettes
are America’s oldest fast pitch softball team. Their Web site offers news about the past, present, and future of the Illinois-based team. So what exactly is a “Lette?” It’s short for the team’s original name, the Dieselettes, in reference to the construction equipment company that originally sponsored the team.
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