Tee ball or t-ball is a sport based on baseball and is intended as an introduction for children to develop baseball skills and have fun. The name "Tee Ball" is a registered trademark, while t-ball is the generic name, although many sources use tee ball as a generic title.
In t-ball, the pitcher is usually used for defensive purposes only. The ball is placed on an adjustable tee atop the home plate at a suitable height for the batter to strike. (In some clubs, adult coaches give the batter an opportunity to try and hit a few pitched balls before going to the tee in the hope that this will further develop batting skills.) Most of the other rules are similar or identical to those of baseball, though the game is played on a smaller field.
In Tee ball, an inning is completed once the defensive team has made three outs. Then, the team at bat plays defense and the defensive team takes the bat.
Many parents assist during the game by coaching players in the dugout, in the field, on the bases, and at the plate. They also perform the task of umpiring. A roster is typically displayed to the fans cheering from the bleachers.
Balls: typically appear identical to baseballs but are slightly softer to reduce injuries: 9" to 9½" around, 4 to 6 ounces weight, with a molded core or sponge rubber center.
Footwear: Casual footwear such as tennis shoes. In some cases, baseball cleats.
A "Tee Ball" trademark was registered with the United States government by Dayton Hobbs in the early 1970s, but the game's origins date back to at least the 1940s and 50s with several people claiming to be the father of the game. Claude Lewis, director of the Warner Robins, Georgia Recreation Department, formed a tee-ball league in March 1958. 20 children played the first year. Lewis designed rules for the new game and mailed the rule books out to rec departments all over the country and overseas.
Albion, Michigan claims to be the place of invention for the sport in 1956, though Starkville, Mississippi makes a similar claim that t-ball was invented in their town in 1961. According to the Starkville Rotary Club's website: "In 1961, when it was apparent that younger children needed some way to participate in the program, Rotarians Dr. Clyde Muse and W. W. Littlejohn devised the game of t-ball and added it to the summer baseball program." Dr. Hobbs has credited the United States Navy with spreading the game overseas. U.S. presidents since Ronald Reagan have hosted t-ball games on the South Lawn of the White House.
- Tee Ball Baseball Official Web Site
- T-Ball University Official Web Site
- T•BALL USA Association
- Rules of Tee Ball
- T-Ball Invented In Albion (Michigan)
- Robert Dayton Hobbs (1924-2006) was a Baptist minister, a 1959 graduate of Bob Jones University, who pastored a church he founded in Milton, Florida. In 1962, Hobbs founded Santa Rosa Christian Schools and was instrumental in forming the Christian Educators' Association. In the late 1950s, Hobbs also formed Santa Rosa County's first organized youth baseball program. "All Things for Jesus: The Ministry of Dayton Hobbs,"Voice of the Alumni [BJU],82.4 (2009), 14-16.
- "T-Ball Invented in Albion", Frank Passic, Morning Star, April 28, 2002, pg. 5
- "A Look at the Starkville Rotary Club Through the Years", Starkville Rotary Club