League Age Determination Date Talking Points and Q&A
- When the July 31 league age determination date was settled upon in
the mid 1940s, Little League was confined to Pennsylvania and a few
other states, and it was the only youth baseball organization (for
12-year-olds and below) of any significant size. The date was chosen
because it was the date used in Williamsport schools to divide grade
- In the 1950s, other youth baseball organizations were formed,
primarily for young teens. These organizations and Little League got
together and agreed to use one date (July 31) so there would be a
smooth transition when a player moved from one program to another.
- In the past 55 years, and particularly in the past 20, Little League
has expanded rapidly. The original reason for the current league age
determination date (July 31) no longer exists.
- There are now many age cutoff dates for schools, depending on the
location and local customs. Since Little League operates in 75 other
countries as well, the July 31 date has become somewhat arbitrary.
- For the past 60 years in Little League, players born in the
mid-summer have played their entire 12-year-old seasons without
actually being 12 years old. It has been this way for up to 50 years
in the other smaller youth baseball organizations as well.
- That's why the organizations got together (through their membership
in USA Baseball) to recommend the change. All of the organizations
have supported it, with the understanding that all would make the
change next year, or by the 2007 season at the latest. Little League’s
International Board of Directors will meet this spring to formally
consider making the change to the April 30 date.
- Currently, more than 95 percent of all local Little League programs
start their seasons before May 1. The change to the April 30 date
gives the opportunity to those children born in May, June and July to
play all or part of their 12-year-old seasons as actual 12-year-olds.
- The overall average age difference in all divisions will only be about four months greater, if the change is approved. Little League has been advised, in consultation with experts in this field (including Dr. Barry Goldberg, Director of Sports Medicine at Yale University and Chairman of the USA Baseball Medical and Safety Advisory Board), that the physiological differences (based on this change) in children of this age will be miniscule, and negligible at best.
Q & A
Question: If the Little League International Board of Directors approves the April 30 league age determination date…
…will it mean one age group will be forced to skip a year?
Answer: No. Every player in all divisions will still have the opportunity to have one full season each year at each age group. No player will be forced to “move up” any sooner than he/she would under the current league age determination date.
…will it mean that some players will get two years at one age group?
Answer: Yes. Players with birth dates in May, June or July this year will be the same league age next year. For example: A player who was born on July 15, 1993, is a league age 12-year-old for the 2005 season. If the change is approved, that player will AGAIN be a league-age 12-year-old for the 2006 season. Keep in mind, this will only be the case for one year.
…will it be difficult for local leagues to make the change?
Answer: It should not be. If the change is made for the 2006 season, the simplest way of explaining it is this…A player’s chronological age on April 30 of the year in question is his/her league age for that year (starting in 2006).
…could it help our league retain players for our Junior League (13-14-year-olds) Division?
Answer: Absolutely. One-fourth of those players who would have been moved up to the Junior League Division (where they were the youngest of the young) would have another year in the Majors Division, and thus may be better prepared for the larger diamond.
…could our local league institute the change for the 2005 season?
Answer: No. The change, if approved by the Little League International Board of Directors, would take effect in 2006. For the 2005 season, including Tournament Play, the July 31 date must be used in determining the league age of every participant in all divisions.