Softball, an offshoot of American baseball, was invented by Lewis Robler about 1898. The first game played in New Zealand, an exhibition between two company teams, was a curtain raiser to a rugby league match at the Wellington Winter Show Building in 1937. By December of that year there were 20 teams in the Wellington district. In 1938, after visits by Wellington teams, the game became established in Auckland, Wanganui, Palmerston North, Christchurch, and Levin. At first competitions were held only in the Wellington district; but as the game spread to other centres the need for some form of national governing body became apparent. Accordingly, on 11 January 1938, the New Zealand Softball Association was formed. This is affiliated with the American Softball Association and, in turn, with all the New Zealand provincial associations. The separate softball clubs are affiliated to their local or provincial associations. By August 1965 the competitive membership in New Zealand was: adults (men and women), 4,414; school children (in Saturday morning competitions), 3,523. Moreover, about 10,000 children take part in inter-school competitions every week.