Rules and History of Softball

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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.

Rules and History of Softball

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. 

Dulcinea's Insight

  • 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.

Dulcinea's Picks

For an overview of the rules …
For the history of softball …
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