Softball is said to have begun - indoors, actually - in 1887 on Thanksgiving Day in Chicago. Now played in over 125 countries, softball is touching thousands and thousands of girls, boys, women, and men on all continents. The sport’s competitive activities and events are expanding continually with new events such as the World University Games and the Commonwealth Softball Championships being added to its event schedule.
In 1951, the first National Softball Week in the United States was declared (for July 22-28). That same year, the first licensed female umpire was hired in organized softball. She was 25-year old Madeline Lorton from the Bronx in the state of New York.
Softball continued to spread to the rest of the world, with perhaps its biggest push coming from American servicemen playing and teaching the game on the fields of World War II. In 1952 the first meeting was held for the International Softball Federation (ISF), which would govern the sport around the world.
Author Karen Christensen, in the Encyclopedia of World Sport, notes that softball spread to the United Kingdom because of an American movie, "A Touch of Class," which was filmed in London and featured a softball game, which began to be played in England as a result.
The first world championship in international play took place in 1965, when women's teams from five countries competed in Australia. One year later, the first Men's World Championship would be played (in Mexico). World (fast pitch) championships for junior men and junior women were first played in 1981, and a Men's World Slow Pitch Championship debuted in 1987.
In 1991, women's fast-pitch softball was selected to debut as a medal sport at the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 2001 a World Cup competition was introduced for 16-and-under girls from the United States and around the world.
Chinese Softball Association
ISF member since: 1980
ASF member since: 1986
President: HU Jiayan
Secretary-General: YANG Xu
Add: No. 2, Tiyuguan Road, Beijing 100763, China
Tel: (86-10) 67162167
Fax: (86-10) 67162993
At the Far East Games held in Shanghai in 1915, the Philippine women’s softball team played an exhibition match. Following that, the game was played in missionary schools in Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin and Guangzhou. Before the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, softball was included in a few national sports meets. The First National Games held in 1959 drew women’s softball teams from 21 provinces and municipalities. Softball was also an official event at the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th National Games. In 2001, the sport was first included in the National Inter-city Games. Over the years the Chinese national women’s softball team has achieved excellent results in their encounters with teams from Japan, the United States, the Philippines, Italy and Australia.
Softball is also very popular in Taiwan Province, where technical level of the sport is comparatively high.
At present, there are softball teams in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Liaoning Province, Jiangsu Province, Guangdong Province, Henan Province, Hunan Province, Sichuan Province, Gansu Province and the People's Liberation Army.
Link: International Softball Federation (ISF)