No, we’re not talking about softball for well-endowed men. We’re talking about a Chicago tradition of playing softball with a giant (sixteen-inch) ball, played without gloves. The attraction? Anyone can play. From the weekend super-jock trying to relive some high-school glory to the long-haired freak who doesn’t know a fielder’s choice from Tasters Choice, anyone can get out on the field, connect the bat to the giant ball with every ounce of power, and watch the ball go…, well, nowhere. Fortunately, since the big ball is so damn hard to catch, all you have to do is run to first base and hope for the best—skill often carries minimal importance. Not always, of course, as the presence of the Sixteen-Inch Softball Hall of Fame suggests. But regardless, it’s a Chicago spring and summer tradition, as much a bellwether as street festivals and Pulaski Day.
Best of Chicago 2002