The Origin of Indoor Baseball
This studio portrait of the Owosso, Michigan team shows the player sitting second fro the right, front row, holding a large ball, which was used in the indoor version of the game. George Hancock of Chicago is credited with developing the game in 1887, and Louis Rober, a Minneapolis firefighter, further refined it as a way to keep his colleagues in shape during the winter months.
Athletes throughout the upper Midwest played indoor baseball in gyms, using shorter bats and rules that differed from traditional baseball. Eventually, the term "softball" replaced "indoor baseball," and the game itself moved outdoors as well.