The game of softball developed from baseball. There are a number of varieties of softball played today. The most common in the United States are the slow- and fast-pitch games. Both require a ball 12 inches in circumference that is pitched underhand. In another adaptation of slow-pitch softball a 16-inch ball is used.
The softball played today is a descendant of games that used a ball larger and softer than the small, hard one used in baseball. The games were given such names as kitten ball, mush ball, indoor baseball, playground baseball, and diamond ball. Some authorities claim that softball was originated by members of the Farragut Boat Club in Chicago, Ill., in 1887. The members were said to have used a boxing glove and broom handle for a ball and bat.
In 1908 the National Amateur Playground Ball Association of the United States was founded. It formulated rules that are similar to those used in softball today. The Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) was organized in 1933 and serves as the governing body for amateur softball in the United States. The rules that regulate 12-inch ball are set by the International Joint Rules Committee on Softball, which was absorbed by the ASA in 1980.
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