The 90-year long journey of pesäpallo History “Jussi Kiikari, the manager of the West won the hutunkeitto and the father of the game, Tahko Pihkala, made the opening throw to the pitcher of the West, Markus Lakaniemi, and the game is now ready to start.” Pesäpallo was born in the beginning of the 20th century when the father of the game, Lauri Tahko Pihkala, got the idea for developing it after seeing a baseball game during his visit to USA. Pihkala noted there to be something in the game but he wanted more activity into it. “We are still in the first inning, West is hitting and has filled all the bases. Esa Risku is batting and Koivu is running home but Jaakkola makes a nice stop and throw creates a third out and a change of turns follows.. Pihkala created pesäpallo as we know it today with the help of kuningaspallo and pitkapallo (old Finnish ball-and-bat -games) between 1915 and 1921. The first offical match of pesäpallo was played 90 years ago in 1922. The idea of the game The idea of pesapallo is to score more runs than your opponent. The game is played on a pesapallo field, inside
of which the hits must bounce on. There is home base and three outfield bases that runner must go through in order to score a run. The inning team bats the ball and tries to score runs. Outfielding team tries to prevent the batting team from scoring. Players take turns hitting the ball and try to move from base to base before outfielding team can take the ball to the next base. If player runs trough all the bases legally and arrives to home base before the ball he scores a run. When the outfielding team can get the ball to a base before the runner it creates palo, “an out” (lit. “a burn”) and players journey ends there. When three palo’s are created, the teams change turns, outfielding team becomes the batting team and vice versa. Team that has scored most runs in a period wins that period. The match is won by the team with more period points. Differences to baseball The most notable differences between pesapallo and baseball are batting and pitching. In pesapallo player hits a vertical pitch. In baseball, however, player hits a horizontal pitch. There is also a backline in pesapallo which baseball doesn’t have. This is one of the things that make pesapallo much more tactical sport. Qualities Pesapallo demands lots of qualities from the player. A top player must be fast and tough because the sport’s nature is extremely harrowing. Additionally player must know how to hit the ball and control the usage of the glove. The tactical nature of the game also challenges players and demands fast reactions and intelligence. Pesapallo is a team sport forming from good individual performances and seamless team play. This makes the sport very interesting and intriguing. The children and the youth Some of the finest and the most memorable moments in pesapallo are created in children and youth work. Pesapallo has a great and unique play camp system, with national camps for four different age groups draw annually 360 teams and over 5000 players to enjoy a week-long fun and co-operation. During that the regions play for their championship. This whole thing is made possible by succesfull pesapallo schools that draw new players to the sport. Including these schools pesapallo is a hobby for 30 000 children and youngsters. The top-level play Superpesis Oy (Ltd.) was founded in 1990 to organize the top level pesapallo. It has succeeded brilliantly and pesapallo is strongly competiting against football (soccer) as the number one summer sport in Finland. In 2011 pesapallo showed it strength when Sotkamon Jymy and Vimpelin Veto competed in Superpesis finals. Both teams managed to draw an attendance average of 3000 during the play-offs. “his is the twelfth consecutive medal for Sotkamo Jymy and the celebrations are ready to start in front of 5500 spectators!” The women’s Superpesis is a story of its own. It has an attendance average of almost 700 people per match. During the 2011 season Pori Pesakarhut had a stunning average audience of 1300 people. The most precious display of the game is the annual East-West -game where the best players of the game meet the most enthusiastic fans. Pesapallo, the national sport of Finland, is a sport that fits to everyone regardless of age and size. The game is social by its nature so it easily gathers all age groups together. Many people who enter the game stay within it in many kinds of task throughout their lives. The speed, tactical and intelligent style of play and versatility are such intriguing qualities that they can easily grab one’s interest.