More Than 200 Teams Charter 50-70 Pilot Program
The 50-70 Pilot Program has received overwhelming support since it was announced in January, with more than 200 teams chartered for the 2010 season.
In an effort to further ease the transition from the standard Little League field size (46-foot pitching distance and 60-foot base paths), to the Junior/Senior/Big League field (60.5-foot pitching distance and 90-foot base paths), Little League is offering the pilot program for league age 12- and 13-year-olds.
(Note: Click here to see the list of leagues that have chartered for the 50-70 Pilot Program.)
The pilot program will be conducted on fields that feature a 50-foot pitching distance and 70-foot base paths. The pilot program is available to all Little League programs worldwide for the 2010 season.
The announcement was made on Little League’s Internet site on Jan. 11, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Details also were e-mailed to those who have signed up to receive email updates from Little League.
It is important for local leagues to register for the program before any tryouts, games or practices. The local Little League President is the only person authorized to register. He or she may register at: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e2o9u2b3g41rir96/start
After the 2010 regular season, each participating league will be required to complete a post-season survey detailing the benefits and challenges.
Questions from Local Leagues, and Answers from Little League International
At the Facebook page dedicated to Little League, scores of questions have been answered by Little League International since the announcement on Jan. 11. Currently, Little League has more than 9,000 Facebook fans in 44 countries and six continents.
“Sending emails to volunteers is a good way for us to provide information to a large number of volunteers, so we will continue to do that” Chris Downs, Little League International Director of Publicity, said. “And individual volunteers can always contact their regional office by email for answers.
“But that’s only a one-way communication between two people. With Facebook, everyone who is subscribed to Little League’s fanpage can see the answers directly from Little League International. They also can see what other Little League volunteers are thinking, which allows the best ideas to be shared quickly and efficiently.”
Signing up to be able to view all the questions and answers regarding the 50-70 Pilot Program on Facebook is easy, and free. Simply click on the link below and follow the instructions for signing up.
One of the most common questions relates to field space. Many have pointed out that they do not have a field in their boundaries that could accommodate a 50-70 division.
However, they may not realize that the field is not required to be inside the league’s boundaries to be usable. For instance, if only one field is converted to 50-70 play in a given area, any chartered Little League could use that field to play 50-70 games, provided certain conditions are met as noted below.
The field does not need to be owned or operated by the local Little League. As long as the field meets Little League standards, the owner of the field permits the use, and the local Little League Board of Directors approves the use of the field, it’s acceptable. (In this case, Little League accident insurance would be in force. The owner of the field may ask to be named as an additional insured on the liability policy, but this is not required by Little League International.)
That would allow, for instance, some or all of the leagues in a given district to charter for the 50-70 Pilot Program in 2010, and play those games on a single field.
Another solution may be to convert an existing “standard” Little League field (a field with 46-foot pitching distance and 60-foot base paths) to a 50-70 field, but to allow that field to be used for BOTH divisions.
Such a conversion is possible. Little League International has provided a step-by-step tutorial on converting a field for dual use. It can be downloaded at: 50-70 Field Conversion
Of course, a local league also can convert a 60.5-90 field to the smaller 50-70 size. However, doing so would require two separate pitching mounds. (A portable pitching mound can be used in regular season, but not tournament play.)
Regular Season and Tournament Play
For 2010, there will not be a separate level in the International Tournament for the 50-70 Pilot Program. However, local leagues and districts that are participating in the program will be able to organize tournaments using a Special Games Request Form.
Any player who participates in the pilot program during the regular season will be eligible to participate simultaneously in the Little League Division (for players ages 9-12) or the Junior League Division (12-14). Such a player will be eligible for selection to either age-appropriate International Tournament Team.
However, a player who participates solely in the 50-70 Pilot Program also will be eligible based on his/her age for selection to a team participating in the International Tournament (only for the 2010 season as a part of this pilot program) under guidelines established for player eligibility.
Here are some additional options available:
- Leagues will be allowed to operate under interleague play and combined teams. However, players will only be eligible for tournament in the league where they reside.
- Leagues will be allowed to structure the 50-70 Pilot Program so that their typical season is conducted, for example, on Monday through Friday. Then on Saturday and Sunday, leagues could offer the pilot program to players who wish to participate. All pitching guidelines apply.
- Participating leagues (and districts with participating leagues) will be permitted to organize tournaments using a Special Games Request Form for players in the 50-70 Pilot Program. Players may participate in both Special Games and the International Tournament under guidelines established in the Baseball Rulebook.
In the 50-70 Pilot Program, ONLY players who are league ages 12-13 will be eligible in 2010.
Additionally, base runners will be permitted to lead off in the 50-70 Pilot Program (requiring pitchers to hold runners on base), runners may attempt stealing at any time, and head-first sliding is permitted. In the Little League division, runners cannot leave the base until the ball reaches the batter, and sliding must be feet-first unless the runner is retreating to a base.
Also for the 50-70 Pilot Program – unlike the Little League division – the batter becomes a runner on a dropped third strike, the bat can have a diameter of 2 5/8 inches, and the on-deck batter is permitted.
The fence distance in the 50-70 Pilot Program is up to the local league to decide. It is recommended that the distance be at least 200 feet, but not more than 300 feet.
In the 50-70 Pilot Program, the height of the pitcher’s plate, in relation to the level of home plate, is eight inches.