Finnish Pesäpallo–similar to American baseball–but not quite

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Who’s on First?

By Thomas C. Wilmer

Photo credit: janne.png

Siilinjärvi, Finland—When my Finnish friend, Marjia, asked, “Would you like to go to a pesäpallo game?” I responded, “Why sure. You did say baseball, didn’t you?”

“No, you heard me right, our Finnish summer pastime, pesäpallo, is similar to American baseball, but there are definite differences. Our version of baseball was developed in the 1920s by professor Lauri Pihkala as a training tool for the Finnish military.”

The military’s connection with pesäpallo explains why if you have two strikes against you in Finland, you have been “wounded” twice. And if you strike out, in the game of pesäpallo you’re “killed”.

Nationwide, more Finnish women play pesäballo than men and more women’s teams qualify to play in the Super Pesäpallo league.