by Alsace “Scrappy” L’Fuerst
Springtime: When a former future of Hall of Famer’s heart turns to softball.
not the high-level fast-pitch version that female athletes play
with much of the same gusto, skill sets and eyes-agog onlookers
as the game better baseball players play,
but the high arc, lob, put it over the plate and jack it game
the take a hack and whack it
give it a smack and crack!
kiss it goodbye
going going gone
and the crowd in our head goes wild game
we all play,
long to play,
Most often of the baggy pants, falling down, low comedy variety;
a slapstick, a farce, a knockabout travesty–
despite what the Wednesday night beer league
and Sunday morning pick up players say,
…most often in retrospect.
But jack-it softball is also
of giving shit
between the cheers and jeers
of heroics realized:
A wallop, a dinger
A Ruthian blast.
A goner, round-tripper
It’s outta here fast.
A home run by any other name would not sound so sweet.
of a craftsman at work:
a double in the clutch
hitting the cut-off man
just doing his job.
But most of all,
jack-it softball is a gentle man’s pastime
of gaffes and laughs:
the duffs and muffs
ignored and forgotten;
lingering long are
the tries and sighs
For win or lose it’s back to the field Wednesday nights
and Sunday mornings
to take another whack
give it a smack
kissed it goodbye
…even though we never left.
1887 – Indoor Baseball is invented on Thanksgiving Day at the Farragut Boat Club, Chicago. A boxing glove tied up by its own strings is the ball; a broken-off broom handle is the bat.
1889 – An Indoor Baseball rulebook is issued. The game is promoted as a way for baseball players to stay in shape during the winter.
1895 – Indoor Baseball moves outside, in Minneapolis. The game spreads, mostly in the Midwest, under various names: kitten ball, diamond ball, pumpkin ball, mush ball, cabbage ball. The first women’s team forms at Chicago’s West Division High School.
1910 – The NCAA sanctions the game as a college sport for women.
1926 – The term softball is coined, in Denver, and becomes the sport’s official name a few years later.
1933 – The first national softball tournament is held in conjunction with the Chicago World’s Fair.
1934 – The American Softball Association (ASA) is founded; rules are standardized.
1952 – The International Softball Federation (ISF) is founded.
1965 – The ISF holds its first world championship, in Australia. Women’s teams from five nations compete.
1982 – The NCAA holds the first Women’s College World Series, in Omaha.
1996 – Women’s Fast-Pitch Softball debuts at the Summer Olympics, Atlanta.
2013 – The ISF merges with the International Baseball Federation to form the World Softball Baseball Federation. There are more than 120 member countries in the softball division.
The Present – Around 40 million Americans play at least one game of softball each year. There are Men’s, Women’s and Junior’s Fast Pitch Leagues; Men’s and Women’s Modified Leagues; Co-Ed Slow Pitch leagues; plus, charity events and countless pick-up games in playgrounds, parks, and make-shift fields across the country.