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Accept Travel Ball Team?

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  • Accept Travel Ball Team?

    I am President of a 10-12 team youth baseball league for ages 13-16. We have occasionally played fall ball (off-season) games against travel ball opponents, but it is very limited. Our main season is the spring, and we have a request from a former coach in the league to bring in a team and play against our league. That team would not be eligible for the league playoffs. We have refused to dabble in travel ball over the years, continuing to run the rec program successfully for over 55 years, and we have a pretty good reputation. We value parity and have many rules about team composition and protected players to help ensure it.

    I have always valued our model, eschewing most contact with travel ball teams. At one point there was consideration to have a two-tier league; travel ball-like in one flight and pure rec ball in the other. That would have been an acknowledgment that travel ball is here to stay and we might as well accept it. But we didn't, and I was glad we didn't. I feel like we have a model that works, our ethics and morals intact, so I am hesitant to accept any collaboration with travel ball teams. I guess I hope it will become unpopular someday, and our tried and true model will become more universally accepted. We used to have about 16 teams, but both travel ball and baseball's drop in popularity have hurt our enrollment.

    I am seeking opinions about whether it is time to break down and "play ball" with the travel ball crowd or stay with our core principles.

  • #2
    By age thirteen the rec model is great for mediocre talents who just want to have fun playing the game. Any serious talent should be looking for the most challenging environment. He has two years to adapt to the big field before high school. 13u is adapting to change in field size.14u is more about adapting to the speed of the game increasing significantly as a majority of the players have hit puberty.

    My son played LL and a Sunday DH league geared to improving the abilities of potential all stars and learning the positions they were like,y to play in all stars. Being one of the most talented players on the field in his district at 13u he started played nothing but USSSA Majors despite only being 5’2” in 13u in 5’4” when 14u started. He was 6’2” 195 in college ball.

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