How it all started
Invented by Minneapolis Fire Captain Louis Rober in 1895, the game of softball was originally played with a 16-inch ball to help the members of the fire station keep fit. He called the sport Kittenball.
Senior Softball dates to the 1930s, when Eveyln Brown Rittenhouse, a retired stage actress from New York, moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, to manage a retirement community.
She was asked to recommend a way to keep older people active. Her idea: Softball. In those days, the players walked the bases. That practice has long since changed.
The sport has evolved since that time. The ball is smaller and harder. The slow-pitch softball game organized by Senior Softball-USA is a fast-paced and vigorous sport. The teams play with a 12-inch ball in a game that's heavy into hitting, running and fielding. The 25,000 Senior Softball-USA players make up the best and most competitive of the 1.5 million seniors playing softball in America today.
One thing that remains unchanged, however, is the spirit of fun, competition and camaraderie inspired by the sport. Senior Softball-USA remains the leading organization of Senior Softball. "We are dedicated to informing and uniting the senior softball players of America and the world," said founder Bob Mitchell.
Senior softball today
There are more than 1.5 million active senior softball players and that number is growing as baby boomers come into the market.
Softball is the number one men's team sport in America with approximately 21 percent of the male populace participating.
Softball is one of the few sports in America which has achieved near parity in the numbers of men and women participating.
Bob Mitchell founded Senior Softball-USA, the world's largest organization of senior softball players, in Sacramento, California, in the Spring of 1988. Since then, the organization has mushroomed in size, growing by an average of 500 players a quarter. Today Senior Softball-USA players are on 1,500 teams in every state and in Canada.
Men must be 50+ and women 45+ to play and everyone is welcome. "This is a sport that doesn't discriminate," said founder Bob Mitchell. "Not by age, not by sex, not by race and not by religion. Our goal is to provide the opportunity for any senior to play softball."
Regulations SSUSA provides a national governing body for senior softball play.