The Official Web Site of Oceanside National LL Baseball: Little League NEWS!

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Tuesday, April 3
Little League Statement on non-Wood Bats
Little League Statement on Non-Wood Bats
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (March 23, 2007) – Recently, Little League International has received a number of inquiries regarding non-wood bats, particularly in relation to a March 14 vote by the New York City Council to ban the use of non-wood bats in high school baseball games.

It is important to note that the New York City Council’s vote applies only to high school baseball games played in the city, and does not apply in any way to Little League games at any level in the city or anywhere else.

Little League International has and will continue to provide as much factual information as possible on the subject to the media, to volunteers, and to legislators considering laws that would dictate the use of certain types of equipment in Little League Baseball and Softball. It is Little League International’s belief that the same governmental imposition may soon be directed at Little League Baseball and other youth baseball programs.

Little League Baseball has always advocated that local leagues and individuals may choose wood or non-wood bats for use in our program.

Little League supports the right of a local Little League to implement a wood-only rule, and we support any league’s right to make that choice for its local community. Some prefer the game played with wood bats, and that’s fine as well. But Little League International does not accept the premise that the game will be safer if played exclusively with wood, simply because there are no facts – none at all – to support that premise.

As a result, any individual or league choosing a wood-only option must understand that the choice is not being made because of any factual data or scientific information.

Little League volunteers already know that participation in Little League is made safer by Little League rules, regulations and policies. Little League’s safety record is second to none, as less than 1 percent of all participants annually in Little League require medical treatment of any kind as the result of an injury in a practice or game.

As Steve Keener, Little League Baseball and softball president and chief executive officer, said: “If there was a safety concern, based on Little League’s proven history of attention to safety with matters such as mandating background checks and pitch counts, we’d be the first in line to address it.”

Safety continues to be Little League’s No. 1 concern, and the non-wood bat issue is no exception. For that reason, we are providing these facts:

• More than 10 years ago, the major manufacturers of non-wood bats reached an agreement with Little League to limit their bats to a “Bat Performance Factor” (BPF) of 1.15. … The BPF is essentially a measure of a non-wood bat’s performance (how fast the ball exits the bat when hit) in relation to a standard wood bat’s rating of 1.00. A very good wood bat’s BPF is 1.15.

• That means today’s best non-wood bats (usually made of aluminum) used in Little League perform statistically the same, in terms of how fast the ball exits the bat, as the best wood bats.

• For the last 10 years, bat manufacturers have only been producing non-wood bats for play in Little League Baseball that do not exceed the 1.15 BPF. Most of these bats are already printed with the BPF of 1.15, but beginning in 2009, all bats used in Little League Baseball must be imprinted with the BPF.

• A common misconception is that lighter bats always translate into a baseball being hit harder. This is not the case, because there is a point at which a lighter bat (even though it is swung at a higher speed) does not exert the same force on the pitched ball as a heavier bat does. A simpler way to understand this is to consider a small hammer used to pound a nail: Although the small hammer may be swung with much greater speed, a heavier hammer (swung at a lower speed) will drive the nail with fewer blows because it has more inertia at the point of impact. This is why the non-wood bat manufacturers have agreed to the current standard – so that the non-wood bats perform at a level close to wooden bats, even though a Little Leaguer may be able to swing them faster. … Imposing a wood bat mandate could result in fewer players in the game. A more forgiving bat means more players have a chance for some success and therefore will want to play and enjoy the game.

• Little League reached this agreement in the early 1990s with the manufacturers of non-wood bats because it noticed the number of reported injuries to pitchers who were hit by batted balls had increased to about 145 in a year.

• Since that agreement, these types of reported injuries have decreased to their current level of 20-30 per year. Considering there are more than a million Little League games played each year, with hundreds of millions of pitches, this safety record is nothing less than outstanding.

• Little League also has addressed the baseballs used in games. Requirements for baseballs to have standardized hardness and liveliness have been in place for several years as well.

• In 2002, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reviewed this issue thoroughly and resolved that there was inconclusive data to support such a ban of non-wood bats from use in high school and youth baseball.

• Since records were kept beginning in the 1960s, tragically there have been eight fatalities in Little League Baseball from batted balls. Six of those resulted from balls hit by wood bats and two from balls hit by non-wood bats. Those two fatalities occurred in 1971 and 1973, prior to the 1993 implementation of today’s youth bat standards.

• This is not a business interest for Little League Baseball. While Little League does receive royalties from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association Youth Bat Licensing Program, these royalties amount to only about 2 percent of Little League’s annual operating budget of $18 million. … If a wood-bat mandate were imposed, Little League estimates that its royalties from this program would either equal or exceed current levels.

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Sunday, November 12
Little League Implements New Rule to Protect Pitchers’ Arms
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Aug. 25, 2006) – Little League Baseball is changing its decades-old pitching rules, making the actual number of pitches delivered the deciding factor in determining eligibility in the baseball division, it was announced today by Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball.

Starting with the 2007 season, pitchers in all divisions of Little League, from age 7 to 18, will have specific limits for each game, based on their age. The number of pitches delivered in a game will determine the amount of rest the player must have before pitching again.

“Little League has a rich history of pioneering baseball safety innovations,” Mr. Keener said. “As the world’s largest organized youth sports program, Little League is proud to take a leadership position in youth sports safety.”

There are about 2.3 million players in the baseball divisions of Little League worldwide. There are nearly 400,000 girls softball players, but the new regulations will not apply to softball.

For all of Little League Baseball’s history, and for the history of amateur youth baseball in general, pitching regulations have used innings pitched to determine pitcher eligibility. Recently, researchers and medical professionals in the field of sports medicine have been working to determine if the actual number of pitches thrown (i.e., pitch count) is a safer way to regulate pitching in youth baseball.

Most notable among those calling for pitch counts has been Dr. James R. Andrews, M.D., medical director at the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) in Birmingham, Ala. Dr. Andrews is the world’s foremost authority on pitching injuries and ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, or, as it is better known, “Tommy John surgery.” The ASMI and the USA Baseball Medical and Safety Advisory Committee have worked closely with Little League to create the guidelines for the new regulation.

“This is one of the most important injury prevention steps ever initiated in youth baseball by the leader in youth baseball,” Dr. Andrews said. “It is certain to serve as the youth sports injury prevention cornerstone and the inspiration for other youth organizations to take the initiative to get serious about injury prevention in youth sports. I am proud that out American Sports Medicine Institute and USA Baseball can play a small role in this important initiative.”

Little League is the first national youth baseball organization to institute a pitch count. The Little League International Board of Directors approved the measure unanimously at its annual meeting today, two days before the Little League Baseball World Series concludes.

“This is the right time to make this change,” Mr. Keener said. “We call upon all youth baseball organizations, including travel leagues, to implement their own pitch count programs in the interest of protecting young pitching arms. Our goal continues to be to educate everyone, particularly parents and coaches, on the potential injuries that can occur from throwing too many pitches.”

For the past two years, Little League has conducted a Pitch Count Pilot Program to determine the feasibility of implementing a regulation limiting the number of pitches a Little Leaguer can throw in a day, and the rest required before pitching again. Fifty leagues were studied in 2005, and nearly 500 signed up for the program in 2006.

“Surveys of those leagues showed the overwhelming majority were able to implement a pitch count without any problems,” Mr. Keener said. “They also found that they were able to develop other pitchers who might not have otherwise ever taken the mound. And they found that their pitchers were stronger at the end of the season, with less arm pain.”

Previously, Little League pitching regulations limited pitchers (league age 12 and under) to six innings per week (Sunday through Saturday), and six innings per game. The number of innings allowed was increased for older age groups.

The number of pitches allowable under the new regulation is based on the pitcher’s age. Specific rest periods are in place when a pitcher reaches a higher threshold of pitches delivered in a day.

The table below gives an overview of the number of pitches that will be allowed per day for each age group during the regular season in 2007.

League Age Pitches allowed per day
17-18 105
13-16 95
11-12 85
10 and under 75

The rest periods required during the 2007 regular season are listed below.

Pitchers league ages 7 through 16 must adhere to the following rest requirements:

• If a player pitches 61 or more pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days of rest must be observed.
• If a player pitches 41 - 60 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.
• If a player pitches 21 - 40 pitches in a day, one (1) calendar day of rest must beobserved.
• If a player pitches 1-20 pitches in a day, no calendar day of rest is required before pitching again.

Pitchers league age 17-18 must adhere to the following rest requirements:

• If a player pitches 76 or more pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days of rest must be observed.
• If a player pitches 51 - 75 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.
• If a player pitches 26 - 50 pitches in a day, one (1) calendar day of rest must beobserved.
• If a player pitches 1-25 pitches in a day, no calendar day of rest is required before pitching again.

“The regulation might be seen as a work in progress,” Mr. Keener said. “As we move forward through the years, the limits may be adjusted as needed. And of course, we will continue to use all means at our disposal to improve the education of managers, coaches and parents.”

Regulations for tournament play (all-stars) will be similar, but with some modifications. Those regulations will be released this fall.

Little League also continues to explore other pitching-related issues, such as the use of breaking pitches.

“While there is no medical evidence to support a ban on breaking pitches, it is widely speculated by medical professionals that it is ill-advised for players under 14 years old to throw breaking pitches,” Mr. Keener said. “Breaking pitches for these ages continues to be strongly discouraged by Little League, and that is an issue we are looking at as well. As with our stance on pitch counts, we will act if and when there is medical evidence to support a change.”

Little League International is beginning a five-year study on breaking pitches by Little League pitchers. The study is being conducted by the University of North Carolina and is supported by the Yawkey Foundation.

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Little League International Board of Directors Adopts Change in League Age Determination
Little League International Board of Directors Adopts Change in League Age Determination Date
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (May 9, 2005) – The Little League International Board of Directors, governing body for the world’s largest organized youth sports program, has accepted a recommendation from USA Baseball to change the league age determination date for its players starting in the 2006 season.
The league age determination date is the age a player has attained as of a specific date, for the purpose of placing the player in a particular division. For more than 55 years in Little League, that date was July 31.

Starting in 2006, the date in all division of Little League Baseball will be April 30 of the current year. The date in all divisions of Little League Softball will be Dec. 31 of the previous year.

For example: Under the old regulation, a baseball player who turns 13 in May, June or July of 2006 would have been considered league-age 13 for the entire season. That would be the case, despite the fact that such a player likely would have played most or all of the regular season (which generally ends in June) without having actually reached his or her 13th birthday. Under the new regulation, such a player will have a league age of 12 throughout the 2006 season.

Under the old softball regulation, a player who turns 13 from January through July of 2006 would have been considered league-age 13 for the entire season. Under the new regulation, such a player will have a league age of 12 throughout the 2006 season.

USA Baseball represents amateur baseball in the U.S. as a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Baseball Association Federation (IBAF). Virtually every major national youth baseball organization in the U.S., including Little League, is a USA Baseball National Member. USA Baseball recommended that the league age determination date be changed from July 31 to April 30, for the 2006 season for all youth baseball organizations.

The change was made in softball to reflect the fact that most national youth softball organizations use Dec. 31 as the league age determination date.

“The changes in the league age determination dates for Little League Baseball and Softball were approved unanimously by the Little League International Board of Directors,” said Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, and a Director of USA Baseball. “More than four years of study went into this decision, along with years of discussions with our senior volunteers at the local level. I congratulate the board on taking this progressive step.”

Also, the Little League International Board of Directors approved a change that provides an option for 12-year-olds to “play up” in the Junior Division. See the question/answer segment below for more information on this, as well as implications for 2006 in the Tee Ball division.