16-inch softball is back in Chicago this week
Baseball is already in full swing, but soon Chicago's real game will be taking over park district diamonds.
Flashback: "16-inch softball started in Chicago over 130 years ago at The Farragut Boat Club," 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame spokesperson George Bliss tells Axios.
- Back then, Bliss says, "Chicagoans used broomstick handles as bats and a boxing glove as a ball."
For beginners: The game uses a bigger, softer ball called a Clincher.
- The pitcher throws an underhand slow pitch with a 6-to-12-foot rainbow arc.
- There are 10 defensive players. Four of them are usually in the outfield.
- The rest of the rules are similar to baseball, but with one glaring difference: there are no gloves. "Anytime you use gloves, it's baseball. Softball is a no-glove concept, pure and simple," Bliss says.
For old-timers like Bliss, 16-inch is the only way. Don't ask him about the 12-inch hardball variety played in other parts of the country.
- "It's just a watered-down baseball game for weaklings that can't catch a simple ball," he says.
Go deeper: A city-wide tournament finally returned to the parks last year after a 10-year hiatus. Although the sport is great for amateurs, it also attracts some of the best softball players in the country to Chicago for tournaments like:
- The annual spring kickoff classic in Tinley Park (April 30).
- The pro leagues start in Forest Park (early May).
- The famed Melrose Park league begins (early May).
What's next: The Kup Media League starts on May 16 at Mozart Park on the northwest side. Both Justin & Monica play for the Axios/Chicago4Real team. Since there are only two of us, we are officially accepting ringers (ahem, freelancers).
- But we'll only let you play if you have a big Chicago mustache.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say the arc on a pitch is 6 to 12 feet (not inches).
More Chicago stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.