Kickball, also referred to as "kick baseball" was introduced by Nicholas Seuss in 1917. He used it as a way to teach children the basics of baseball. He was a parks supervisor in Cincinnati, Ohio and his game quickly became popular among elementary school students and physical education teachers. Cincinnati schools adopted it into their daily routine. In the early 1920s, a pitcher was not used, and the kicker would make contact from home plate. A soccer ball was used most of the time and unlike baseball, the ball was rolled to home plate. Like baseball, there were three outs, three strikes, and four balls. There were two teams with nine players each and four bases. A typical game was five innings and every player had a chance to kick before teams changed sides. This is one of the things that made kickball unique. In order to protect children, throwing a head shot was illegial. Bunting was also not allowed. Unlike other team sports in which players sat on the bench, everyone had a chance to participate. This made the game enjoyable for everyone.
Another great thing about kickball is that it is relatively inexpensive to play. All it takes is a soccer ball, basketball, or a standard red kickball. Children from the city or country can enjoy it. It does not have to be played on a school playground. It can be played in a country field or in a rural area. The game can be played without traditional bases. Sometimes, children use rocks, sticks, or whatever they think is acceptable. Children also like it because they can make up their own rules. For example, both teams may decide that you can also put a runner out by hitting a player. Or, they may play a traditional nine inning game, just like baseball. This game does not take great athletic skill to play and this is another benefit of playing kickball.
During World War II, United States soldiers were seen by foreign correspondent Ernie Pyle playing kickball to relieve stress. Kickball continued to gain popularity and was played by church and community organizations all over America. In 1998, the World Adult Kickball Association was established in Washington, D.C. It was founded by four young men and its popularity exploded. Today, it has thousands of teams and players all over the world. It is particularly popular in South Korea and Japan.
I have great memories of playing kickball as a child. I used to love the challenge of trying to see how far I could kick the ball. Sometimes, I made an extra effort to try and kick the ball over the fence for a home run! It probably planted the seed for me playing baseball in high school. I will admit that I had shaky fingers when it came to catching the ball. Maybe it was just nerves. It was my favorite recess sport and I always looked forward to playing it. Kickball is a wonderful game and great for children.