Orange Little League: Baseball Tips

First Time Baseball Players

Information for parents signing up their youngster for baseball for the first time. Player's Age: A player's league age is determined by the age he or she will be by April 30, 2009. In other words,if your child is 5 years old or will be five before April 30, 2009, he or she is league age five and can sign up to play T-ball! First time five and six-year-old players do not try out. They are automatically assigned to a T-ball team with about 10 to 12 players. Returning six-year old players who have played one season of T-ball and wish to move up to play Division A (Coach Pitch) must attend tryouts. This does not mean the player will automatically be drafted on a Division A team. If not drafted, the six year old player will remain in T-ball for another year to further develop his or her skills. Parents themselves can also choose to have their six year old, who played T-ball at age five, stay in T-ball another year. Therefore,if your child is league age six and has played one year of T-ball, please note on your registration form if you want him or her to play another season of T-ball, or if you would rather they be allowed to try out. If your child is seven years or older he or she must start in Coach Pitch and must tryout.

How Players are Assigned to Teams:
In T-ball, the Managers are assigned players in a random fashion. In Coach Pitch and above, however, an attempt is made to keep the skill level on each team comparable to the other teams in their division. Therefore, in the upper divisions, players are assiged to teams by means of a player draft. At the draft, managers choose from a list of eligible players who have attended tryouts. Draft choices are made based upon the manager's personal evaluation of the player's skills exhibited during tryouts and past seasons. The draft begins with the Major Division managers taking mostly 12 and 11 years olds and then works down the list of players until the AAA, AA and A managers have drafted all of the eligible players. Parents with multiple children in the league can request to place siblings on the same AA or A team if they are in the same age bracket. If this request is made, both players are placed on the same team when either player is drafted.

Parent Participation:
Parent participation is strongly encouraged. The parents can serve as coaches, team parents or cheerleaders.

Keeping Score:
  In T-Ball the games are not competitive. No scores or standings are kept. The teams will bat and field three innings. Each team will bat their entire lineup each inning and everyone plays in the field. It is possible to have the fielders make outs, however the inning will continue until everyone has batted. In Coach Pitch, only 10 players are on the field at one time and outs can be counted to end the inning. However, no score is kept and there are no standings. In all of the higher divisions, scores and standings are tracked. The League rules for each division will be posted once they are amended and adopted for 2006.

Each player will get a jersey, pants, a cap and socks. Each team decides on their own if they want names and numbers on the jerseys and arrange to have them done themselves. Each player will have to provide their own baseball undershirt if desired.

Orange Little League provides the baseballs, helmets, catcher's gear and team bats. In T-ball and Coach Pitch the balls are soft. Your child should have his or her own glove before the first practice begins in February. Most players wear rubber cleats, but it is not required in T-ball. Your child may bring his/her own bat to the practice or game but for safety reasons they may not handle the bat without coaches' supervision and never in the dugout.
Practices: Practices will start at the beginning of February and games start in March. The practice schedule is up to each manager, but you can expect one or two practices a week. Once the season starts the team may practice less. Not all practices may take place at the Orange Little League Fields. If you need help with transportation you can work with your team Manager and Team Parent to develop a car pool arrangement.

What Your Child Needs to Play Little League Baseball

Your registration fees help pay for your child's uniform which includes a hat, shirt, pants and socks. Also, the League will provide each Manager with a bag containing batting helmets, bats, balls and catcher's gear. This leaves you, the parent, the responsibility of providing your child with two things, a glove and cleats. To read about suggestions for choosing a glove, go to:  SportsParents How to Buy a Baseball Glove. Click here if you want tips on breaking in a new glove. You don't need to go to a sporting goods store to get an expensive pair of baseball cleats. Most chain discount stores carry a decent pair that will last until the player outgrows them. A proper fit is more important than a fancy logo. Metal cleats are not permitted in Little League. A protective cup is mandatory for all players who want to play catcher in divisions above T-ball. Male ball players in the upper divisions should be encouraged to wear a cup at all times, but this is not a League requirement.

A personal bat.
Before you go out and buy your child their own bat, click on this picture for a little guidance.

 A personal batting helmet. Some parents prefer that their child not share a helmet with the rest of the team for sanitary reasons.

A reusable water bottle. The players must bring water to every practice and game. A reusable bottle helps reduce the trash that has to be picked up after each event.

A baseball equipment bag. Nice for keeping the players equipment in one place, but not necessary. However, if you buy your child his own bat and helmet this may be the only way to keep organized. Two rules: Label everything and don't spend a fortune on items the player will outgrow in a flash. If you have older bats and gloves you would like to donate, the League will be glad to accept them. Link to the Little League Parents Guide

Breaking in a New Glove

To break in a new baseball glove you need to soften the leather and create a pocket.

Softening the Leather.
How soft? You want the glove pliable enough that the player can close and open the glove with one hand. There are many products on the market for softening leather ball gloves. One of them you probably already have in your home (foam shaving cream, the kind that contains lanolin). Other suggested softening products include Saddle Soap, Mink Oil, Neatsfoot Oil, Tanners Glove Oil or specific products manufactured for baseball glove treatment. Whatever you use, remember two things... You do not have to saturate the glove. Do not use water. Take your chosen product and put a very small amount on a soft, clean cloth. Rub the lubricant into the glove, being careful to use just enough to lightly coat the glove. Make sure it is rubbed in well, and no globs remain. Wipe off the glove when you are done. While you are rubbing the glove bend it back and forth to help get some of the stiffness out of it. Don't overdue this process the first time. If the glove is still too stiff after the child uses it for a while, you can always repeat these steps.

Creating a Pocket.
The pocket of a baseball glove is not up in the webbing. The pocket of the glove should be formed inside the palm area where the player can catch the ball tightly, but not too tight to make it difficult to take it out and throw it. The best way to form a pocket in a glove is to play catch and then store it with a ball wrapped tightly inside. Use a belt or a rope to wrap around the glove after it has closed tightly over a ball.