Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Baseball, Indoor
Baseball, Indoor

Baseball, Indoor

Indoor Baseball Game, 1905
Indoor baseball was invented by George Hancock in 1887 at the Farragut Boat Club on Chicago's South Side. The basic equipment was a mushy soft 17-inch ball and a stick-like bat. No gloves were worn and bases were only 27 feet apart. The game spread like wildfire across the Chicago area, and by the winter of 1891–92 there were more than a hundred teams organized in flourishing amateur leagues. Colleges and high schools, girls and boys, embraced the sport. Around 1907, players began taking the game outdoors, calling it “playground ball” and later “ softball. ” The indoor version went into steep decline in the 1910s, most assuredly because of the rapid growth of basketball, a game far better designed for indoor play. By the early 1920s, indoor baseball was a dead sport, but it left as its progeny the playground game most peculiar to Chicago, 16-inch slow-pitch softball.

Cole, Terrence. “‘A Purely American Game’: Indoor Baseball and the Origins of Softball.” International Journal of the History of the Sport 7.2 (September 1990): 287–296.
Dickson, Paul. The Worth Book of Softball: A Celebration of America's True National Pastime. 1994.
Gems, Gerald R. Windy City Wars: Labor, Leisure, and Sport in the Making of Chicago. 1997.