Pesapallo, the national sport of Finland, was born from the desire to carve a distinct national identity in the early days of the country’s statehood. It retains some strong similarities with baseball, while still bearing its own unmistakable identity. A favourite of men and women alike, pesapallo is the sport of the whole Finnish nation.
Lauri “Tahko” Pihkala is the man credited with inventing pesäpallo, also known as pesis, after the First World War. A game of bats and balls, pesäpallo involves two teams, batters and fielders, that compete over two periods of four innings each, during which each team bats and fields eight times. Just like baseball, batters have four bases they must advance through after hitting the ball to score. Unlike baseball, however, these bases are further apart, in a zigzag formation, making pesapallo much more physically demanding than its American counterpart. The sport is now almost one hundred years old, officially started in 1922, with the biggest event of the year being the annual “East vs. West” match, inaugurated ten years after the sport’s inception.