America's favorite game is the one everybody can play

It doesn't get hyped big-time like other sports, but at the grass-roots level, where it thrives, softball is in a league of its own

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Baseball may be the national pastime for some, basketball and football for others, but when it comes to what we Americans actually play, softball is indisputably the great national game and passion. The author, who enjoys watching and coaching softball teams in his hometown, explains how the sport was "invented" in Chicago and why it subsequently spread throughout the land. The main reason, he says, is simple: just about anyone can play it. Some 40 million of us do, and millions more participate in other ways. It is the most egalitarian of our major sports, the least commercialized and the most social. "It is therefore not only a good pastime but one of the Very Good Things we have going for us."

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