The Game of Softball Originated in Chicago 125 Years Ago

Chicago 16 Inch Softball Hall of Fame honors the game by establishing a museum in Forest Park, Illinois

Nov 21, 2012, 06:00 ET from Chicago 16 Inch Softball Hall of Fame

CHICAGO, Nov. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The game of softball started on Thanksgiving Day, November 24th in 1887 at the Farragut Boat Club in Chicago (located now on landfill south of McCormick Place) when Yale and Harvard students and alumni assembled to learn the tickertape results of the annual football game between both schools, eventually won by Yale 17-8.


While waiting, they wrapped up a boxing glove, forming a soft ball and knocked it around the gym with a broom stick. The first reenactment video on this moment can be seen at They enjoyed the activity so much George Hancock, who worked at the Chicago Board of Trade began to formalize rules and the game basically was played as an indoor sport for years using a 17" size ball. The game moved outdoors in the late 1890's and became formally known as "softball" in 1926.

Today it is a game enjoyed by people around the world with different size diameter balls and with gloves optional. In Chicago over a century later the most prevalent game played is slow-pitch 16" softball with no gloves

Historian and co-founder of the Chicago 16 Inch Softball Hall of Fame, Al Maag said, "The game starting in Chicago is a perfect lead into our enthusiasm about the Hall of Fame's 16 year journey to build a museum to convey the stories about this great sport. The museum is adjacent to Inductee Park located at Harrison and DesPlaines in Forest Park, Illinois where 300 plus inductees have been on display since 2009. The building donated by the Park District of Forest Park has been expanded and the exterior is near completion thanks to a superb job by Topps Construction.  Concurrently we are designing the interior displays, graphics and videos with Spark Design, ZMproductions and the Motif Exhibit Company.

Hall of Fame president Ron Kubicki added, "We are thankful for the vital support of the Park District of Forest Park, community and the Mayor's office to allow this venue to take shape. We are looking for any memorabilia, especially film footage and photos before the 70's. We are also in the process to garner over $200,000 to complete the project in 2013 or 2014. Our initial main sponsor roster includes some of the best local and national brands: Waste Management, MB Financial Bank, Molex, March Manufacturing, Rawlings, Avnet and Vienna. We hope to also attract donations from individuals, small and medium size companies who have enjoyed the sport as well."

Rawlings vice president of marketing, Mike Thompson, stated "The 16" ball was a perfect game for Chicago's small neighborhood ball parks and schoolyards because the ball didn't travel as far. And the absence of gloves benefited everyone in the tough economic times of the '30s. Teams had only to chip in ten cents a man for a new ball. The famous 16 inch "Clincher" style ball we still make today under the "deBeer" brand was created in the 30's by Fredrick DeBeer to withstand the ground and gravel ruining the seams."

Waste Management's Steve Neff, vice president of sports marketing commented, "I loved playing the game and now have an opportunity with the Hall of Fame to chronicle  all the outstanding players and teams. Quite a few are well known Chicagoans who played like Mayor Richard J. Daley, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Mike Royko, the Cubs Ron Santo, the Bears George Halas, and Nate 'Sweetwater' Clifton the first Afro-American player in the NBA make this is a very exciting project for Waste Management to support with our roots in Chicago."

Karen Perlman, senior vice president, chief marketing officer at sponsor MB Financial Bank, added " The sport was all-the-more appealing due to its being organized by family, community and ethnic background at first, then sponsored by the companies its players worked for and women took to the sport because it was less dangerous baseball. These traditions are still largely followed today and played by everyone at school and picnics and those evolve it into more serious league and tournament play."

Brian Krause, vice president of global marketing and communications, Molex noted, "Molex believes in cultivating employee morale, team work and staying physically fit…this game does it all.  One of the first companies to have its own league was Motorola because former CEO Robert Galvin, loved the sport.  We are also very proud that Molex was one of leading industrial teams in the history of the sport in the 80's and 90's and look forward to seeing that story told at the museum along with other companies like Northwestern Railroad, Sun Times/Daily News and Continental Bank".

The Chicago 16" Softball Hall of Fame was formed in 1996 to promote the great game that started in Chicago by honoring and recognizing the game's best players, teams and supporters. The Hall is a 501c3.

For more information on the history of softball and the activities of the Chicago 16 Inch Softball Hall of Fame go to or contact Donna Levy 630/544-5054

SOURCE Chicago 16 Inch Softball Hall of Fame