The Game of Softball

In 1922 the Minneapolis Park Board, that had adopted the game in 1913 in parks and playgrounds of the city, changed the name to Diamond Ball. Apparently, it was accepted as a common name for all the different versions. It was only in 1926 that the name softball was introduced.

Since the early 1920s the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) had started considering the new sport an alternative to baseball. They didn't like their instructors to teach baseball, because they associated it with heavy drinking (Prohibition became effective as of January 1920 and wasn’t repealed until 1933) and gambling. 

The Game of Softball

In the late nineteenth century YMCA had successfully introduced young Americans to the games of basketball (1891) and volleyball (1895; initially the sport was known as mintonette). It was 1926 when Physical Education Director Walter Hakanson, then in his late twenties (he would become a Commissioner and then the President of the Amateur Softball Association), proposed to unify the game under the name of softball.

In a set of rules approved by the American Physical Education, the ball size was narrowed to two options: 12 inches (30,48 centimetres) and 14 inches (35.56 centimetres). Chicago resisted a gloveless version played with 16 inches (40,64 centimetres) balls.

Many in the US refer to the 1920s as The Roaring Twenties because of unprecedented economic prosperity. In the book Whither Mankind, a Panorama of Modern Civilization (edited by Charles A. Beard and published in 1928) economist Stuart Chase (1888-1985) refers to "the machine age" and to jobs that "demand a righting of an outraged biological balance through some form of play".

Softball seemed to many factories the right way to keep workers active and in good spirits. The game grew popular also because it didn’t require a lot of space.