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A real-life A League of Their Own meets The Girls of Atomic City: the first fascinating history of fastpitch softball from its beginnings as an industrial worker’s game to an Olympic sport with millions of fans and players worldwide, and the incredible, larger-than-life women—and men—who popularized the game.Softball is the largest team participation sport in the US with millions of people in all age groups actively playing the game, and increasing TV coverage of the sport on ESPN. Many people think softball was developed as a women’s version of baseball, but that isn’t so. In fact, softball’s early history is full of male stars, such as the vaudeville-esque Eddie Feigner, whose signature move was striking out batters while blindfolded. Because softball was one of the earliest team sports that also allowed women to play, it evolved from a coed, indoor pastime to an elite sport played primarily by young women. It wasn’t like other women’s sports that tended to be watered-down versions of the men’s sports—it became its own game for women. As a result, softball created some of America’s first celebrated female athletes: Bertha Ragan Tickey, who set the strikeout and no-hitter records and taught Lana Turner to swing a bat, and her teammate Joan Joyce, who struck out baseball stars Hank Aaron and Ted Williams with her signature rise ball. Fastpitch brings to vivid life the eclectic mix of characters that make up softball’s vibrant 127-year history. From its humble beginnings in 1887 when it was invented in a Chicago boat club and played with a broomstick, to its prominently sponsored women’s leagues in the 1940s and 50s, Fastpitch chronicles softball’s popularity in the 1960s as a mainstream sport through its controversial elimination from the 2005 Olympics, exploring its present-day status as solely a women’s sport. Featuring sixteen pages of gorgeous, vintage photos and compelling, well-researched historical commentary about this popular sport, Fastpitch is a home run.
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