One of the most popular sports in the United States, softball is said to be the sister sport of baseball. In fact, the two terms are often used interchangeably and have people believing them to be the exact same sport. However, this isn't true. The two games are definitely similar, but actually have quite a few noticeable differences that set them apart.
One common misconception associated with softball is that it was derived from baseball as a modified version of the game. The origin story isn't quite like this. Softball actually came into existence because of a football game held between Harvard and Yale on Thanksgiving Day, back in 1887. Fans of the game sat at the Farragut Boat Club in Chicago eagerly awaiting results of the game. When it became known that Yale had won, one gentleman playfully tossed a balled-up glove to a supporter of the rival team, who swung at it with a broomstick handle. Thus, the first ever "softball” game was held inside the boat club and the sport was born.
Initially, the game was advertised as an indoor sport that could help baseball players stay active during the off season. However, it soon became so popular that it was impossible to consider it as just a practicing exercise, and softball became an official sport. Referred to as "kitten ball”, "pumpkin ball”, and "mush ball” in its earlier stages, the sport didn't come to be unanimously known as softball until 1926. By then, it was no longer an indoor sport, and had its own sets of rules and softball sport tournaments.
So, what makes baseball and softball different? The differences lie in quite a few aspects of both games, including the pitching area, field size, base paths and distance between the home plate and pitching area, bats, and of course, the size of the ball used. Currently, softball is played at both amateur and professional levels in the US, with several softball tournaments held each year.
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