A version of softball that originated in Chicago, IL.

It is played just like regular softball with a few exceptions:

  • The ball is considerably larger and a bit softer than a normal softball.
  • The ball is stitched together much differently than a normal softball.
  • Since the ball is so large, gloves are not permitted (the ball is so big, it would never fit in a glove anyway) and the ball must be caught with your bare hands. According to a friend from Chicago (who introduced me to the game), this is because the people who invented the game could not afford to buy gloves.

The greatest game ever created, and one that anyone can play. Essentially the same rules as regular softball, but the addition of the larger 16" ball changes the game dramatically. The role of the pitcher is almost nullified, essentially reduced to serving up meatballs for the batters to hit. Because anyone can get a hit, the ball is always being put into play and a strikeout is truly the sign of a talentless hack.

The other main departure is the fact that gloves are not to be worn, under any circumstances. This may be a little tough on the hands, but it is seriously more fun. The original reason that no gloves are used were to make the game as cheap to play as possible. To many poor Chicago families the cost of gloves and other equipment would have been impossible to pay, so Chicago softball reqires only a ball and a bat. To many old-school Chicagoans wearing a glove while playing softball is an absolute cardinal sin.

Chicago style softball was so popular in the 1930s that the Windy City Softball League was formed and the games drew thousands of people from around the city. In 1977 for the first time the Chicago Park District allowed players to use gloves in the summer league that played in Grant Park. Columnist Mike Royko was so incensed that he sued the city. Royko claimed that allowing people to wear gloves "runs contrary to the spirit of 16-inch softball and unfairly penalizes those with talent and calloused hands and gives an unfair advantage to those with tender and well-manicured hands." Apparently the judge hearing the case was old-school too because he ruled in favor of Royko and gloves were not allowed.

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