Part of the fun of Little League® is meeting different people and making new friends. Interleague games are great for making these connections, and your league can play other Little Leagues in your area by simply choosing the Interleague Play option available during the chartering process completed annually through the Little League Data Center.
Interleague play is a discussion your Board of Directors can have now, even before knowing how many teams you will field for next season. Establishing the right contacts at other leagues, and laying the groundwork in the offseason will help your league have a successful, enjoyable interleague experience.
Your District Administrator is required to provide approval prior to any interleague games being played during the regular season. This approval is done online through the Little League Data Center. Both leagues must have teams chartered in the division(s) wanting to participate in interleague play.
Tee Ball and Minor Divisions
Providing interleague play for younger divisions is a wonderful way for these players to make new friends, and for parents to expand their social circles. Playing games with other leagues promotes the sharing of ideas and best practices, especially if they are using the Little League Tee Ball and Little League Coach Pitch programs available online and for free at LittleLeagueU.org. The focus of the Tee Ball and Coach Pitch programs is to ensure that these young players have fun, while receiving a healthy and positive introduction to the fundamentals of baseball and softball.
By the time a player is league-age eight, and playing in the Minor Division (player pitch division), the chance to travel and play at a neighboring league is a fantastic experience. Requesting to participate in interleague play is done through the Little League Data Center as a part of the chartering process. A local league can schedule games with one, or several, other Little Leagues and give their Little Leaguers the opportunity to see places where they may be playing come tournament season.
Major Division Baseball and Softball
Whether your league has only one team or several teams, playing special games with other Little Leagues or even non-Little League teams are events that the players and families can get excited about. And provide the opportunity to play different leagues outside of tournament play.
Many leagues have organized successful interleague opportunities, which have provided a competitive setting with a fun atmosphere, where players can improve their on-field and off-field skills.
Intermediate (50/70) Baseball
For the Little League Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division, interleague play also promotes the transitional aspects of this division.
The newest division of Little League, for players 11 to 13 years old, interleague play can be a valuable tool for growth of your league’s Intermediate Division or for your league’s players. With a field size of 50-foot pitching distance and 70-foot base paths that would require a Major Division field to be upsized or to downsizing of a standard field, the interleague format would allow for several games to be played at a central location. It’s also a great way for leagues with only one or two teams to provide different teams for their players to compete against.
Teenage Baseball and Softball
Too often, parents and communities believe that Little League ends at age 12. Little League’s teenage divisions provide regular season and tournament opportunities in both baseball and softball for players up to 16 years old, including four World Series tournaments.
To keep their interest after graduating out of the Major Division, local leagues within the district are encouraged to band together and form a district-wide league beginning at the Junior Division level. In addition to this opportunity, Little League Softball® offers expanded special games benefits for its teenage divisions, which include eligibility for International (All-Star) Tournament play.
Reaching out to other leagues now, in advance of player registration, and gauging the interest can set the path for promoting the league to the middle school and high school athletic departments. Getting local Athletic Directors on board, and by communicating with the high school baseball and softball programs, the Junior and Senior League programs can also be viewed as a developmental program.
Working with the district staff and local league officials to create a healthy, will-run program built on interleague play and special games, will benefit the player and family experience, the league’s finances, and the communities at large.