The History of Kick Ball

Boy (4-6) kicking over-sized ball in park

Many people have fond memories of playing the classic playground sport kick ball as children. This baseball-like game, played with the familiar bouncy red rubber ball, has been around for almost 100 years. While it initially started as a simple game for children, kick ball has developed into a social sport for kids and adults with many devoted enthusiasts.

Early Beginnings

The game of kick ball, originally called "kick baseball," was invented by Supervisor of Cincinnati Park Playgrounds Nicholas C.Seuss in 1917. The game was used in school settings to help children better understand the principles of the sport of baseball. Physical education instructors incorporated kick ball into their curriculum within the public school system during the early 1920s.

Original Kick Ball Rules

The rules of kick ball were printed in publications such as "Mind and Body," a physical education journal. The field for kick ball was laid out in a similar fashion to a baseball diamond, with four bases, including a home plate. Two teams, consisting of 10 or more players, competed alternately in innings. The fielding team had basemen, a pitcher, catcher and outfielders. The object was for the other team to kick the ball, then reach as many bases as possible before being tagged out.

Kick Ball Develops

As the game progressed through the 1920s and 1930s, it adopted more aspects of baseball. Three strikes per out and three outs per inning, four balls to walk a kicker and so on were added to the game. The role of players, such as shortstops, and pitching techniques were better defined. The game also continued to introduce the sport of baseball to a wider audience, including young girls.

A Playground Staple

The game continued to be played in schoolyards and playgrounds for the following decades. Adults sometimes played the game as well. Famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle reported from North Africa during World War II on soldiers playing a number of organized sports, including kick ball. However, kick ball remained largely a children's game until the end of the twentieth century, when more adults caught on to the sport.

Participation Grows for Adults

There was a resurgence in interest in kick ball during the late 1990s, particularly among adults who had played the game as children. Social kick ball leagues began to pop up throughout the United States. As interest grew, organizations such as the World Adult Kickball Association were formed, and thousands of adults became involved with the game. Kick ball remains a favorite pastime of kids and adults alike, who play in playgrounds and parks across the United States and internationally.