There was a time, before the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair made it popular and before Walter Hakanson christened it in 1926 by the name we all know it as, when softball was called kittenball. Or lemonball. Or pumpkinball. (Can we keep calling it kittenball?)
But here’s the thing—eventually, the game found widespread popularity as an indoor activity, something to keep baseball players sharp during winter months, but the very first game happened by accident at Chicago’s Farragut Boat Club on Thanksgiving 1887, when a Yale gentleman threw a boxing glove at a Harvard gentleman after a football game, and someone swung at the glove with a stick. Being gentlemen, they were all so tickled by this novel new sport that they immediately tightened up the glove, grabbed a broom handle, and set about playing. When rich white men set about to do something, they do it right!
Then again, all of this comes from Wikipedia so the game could have been invented by Mary Todd Lincoln when she accidentally hit a ball of yarn with a length of broadcloth. Who can say, ultimately?