History of Kickball

Kickball, originally called “Kick Baseball”, but may also be known as base soccer, soccer-base or soccer-baseball. It is essentially baseball using a playground ball instead of a baseball and bat. Kickball is currently a playground, recreational and competitive league game primarily played in North America. It is also a favorite game of youth in South Korea where it is known as balyagu (foot-baseball) and is a stable of PE classes within elementary schools.

Kickball was invented around 1917 by Nicholas C Seuss, Supervisor of Cincinnati Park Playgrounds, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Starting around 1920 kickball was used by physical education teachers to teach children the basics of baseball.

Around this time, the ball that was used was a soccer or volley ball. It was played by around ten children on a team and the field included a neutral zone that could not be entered until the ball was kicked from the home area (there was no pitcher). There was only one base which was in the same position as baseball’s 2nd base and base runners could only advance one base on an infield ball. More than one player could be on the base at a time, but all needed to get back to the home area before the last kicker kicked. Teams would switch sides after all team members have kicked.

As kickball progressed through the 1920s and 30s, it switched over to all the same rules as baseball. Three strikes per out and three outs per inning, four balls to walk a kicker and so on were added to the game. All three bases and home plate were now used. The role of players and their positions were better defined and pitching was added. Pitching was more often then not done by the same team kicking.

The game continued to be played in schoolyards and playgrounds for the following decades, largely by children. There was a ground swelling of interest in kickball during the late 90s, particularly among adults who played the game as children. Social kick ball leagues that incorporated after game drinking began to pop up throughout the United States.

Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes, and the Reinvention of the American Grown-up

As interest grew, organizations such as the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA) were formed. WAKA was founded in 1998 in Washington DC when four recent college graduates were drinking at a bar and were discussing ways to meet women. They settled on the idea of launching a sports league that mixes athletics and socializing. They picked kickball since it requires little athletic skill and is unlikely to injure anybody. By 2002, the league had grown so big that the four founders registered it as a for-profit corporation in Virginia. In the summer of 2005, the association helped set up a league for Marines stationed in Falluja — the Iraq Semper Fi Division. As of 2011, WAKA has leagues in more than 30 states, 40,000 players in 2,000 teams in 200 divisions.

Kickball continues to be played by both kids and adults alike in playgrounds and parks across the United States.

Kickball Association Links

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