PESAPALLO —THE FINNISH VERSION OF BASEBALL. Brian Costa had an article in the Wall Street Journal (July 10) about pesapallo, a Finnish version of baseball. Ordinarily, it might be chauvinistic to look at another country’s sport as if it were a modification of an American game, but, as Costas points out, pesapallo was invented by Lauri Pihkala, who attended a baseball game when he was studying in the United States in 1907. In the 1920’s Pihkala invented pesapallo, with what he considered to be improvements on baseball. Pesapallo is the most popular school sport for girls in Finland and is second only to ice hockey for boys.
There are many differences in the rules between pesapallo and baseball, but, reading accounts of the rules in Costa’s article and in this wikipedia entry, I am most surprised by the way the ball is pitched in pesapallo. The pitcher stands facing the batter on opposite sides of home plate. Wikipedia says that: “The pitch is delivered by throwing the ball directly upwards above the plate, to a height of at least 1 meter over the head of the pitcher.” (One meter is about three feet.) Also surprising to me is wikipedia’s statement that: “Players generally have little difficulty hitting the ball….”
There is a wonderful video at the link to Costa’s article which shows pesapallo being played.