The History of the Amateur Softball Association of America
Softball actually made its debut as an informal way to pass the time as an anxious group of alumni from both Harvard and Yale University sat waiting to learn the outcome of a football game between the bitter rival universities in 1887. When the group learned that Yale had emerged victorious, one of the Yale supporters threw an old boxing glove at his friend from Harvard. The Harvard alumnus promptly sent the glove flying back at his assailant by whacking it with a stick. The exchange prompted George Hancock’s spontaneous idea for an indoor baseball league.
In its infancy, softball was disorganized and in a state of confusion. Without a governing organization to oversee it, there was confusion as to the rules and the formation of the ball park. The length from base to base was constantly being changed and seemed to be different in every individual ballpark.
The Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) was not formed until several years after the creation of the sport, in 1933. The associations founding members were attempting to make softball a nationally recognized sport. The founding members, Leo Fischer and Michael Pauley, sought to organize local softball teams into a state organization and from there organize the state groups into one larger and all encompassing national organization. Thus the ASA was born. While it has since moved outdoors for the most part, softball has grown to become one of the most popular sports in America.
The formation of the Amateur Softball Association of America gave the sport a cohesive foundation that allowed it to thrive and develop. The founders, Fischer and Pauley, began to invite the local clubs from each individual state to participate in a larger softball tournament at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933. 55 individual teams from all over the country were invited to participate. The tournament gave the sport a type of exposure that it had previously been lacking and soon generated enthusiasm in people all over the country.
Today the ASA is a volunteer driven, not for profit organization with approximately 3 million members across the United States. It is currently the governing body of organized softball in the United States. The organization currently is the authority on regulations for equipment related issues such as bats, balls, and issues related to ballparks (sizing, spacing of bases, etc). It is also the authority on the rules of the game and all umpires must complete a certification program.