A RIBBE Special Report – The Case for 50/70 Division

I did some research on the official website of Little League baseball (www.littleleague.org) as to who was the Rhode Island representative in the 50/70 Intermediate division for the East Regional Tournament in 2019. Do you know what I found? There was no representative league from Rhode Island who participated in this tournament. I know for a fact that my local league, North Kingstown/Wickford Little League, does not currently offer a 50/70 division. And a search online for other leagues in Rhode Island that offer a 50/70 intermediate division brought me to results I knew of already – Cal Ripken RI baseball teams like Apponaug, CLCF, and Washington Park all have 50/70 divisions. In fact, CLCF won the Rhode Island State 50/70 tournament last summer and represented RI in Milford, CT at the East Regions. Other than that, I found no other leagues that offer this 50/70 intermediate division.

This past month, on my RI Baseball Field Bike Relay Ride, I stopped in at Cranston’s Chafee Sports Complex and met up with players and coaches from CLCF. They were practicing on a beautiful fall day on the 50/70 field, one of a short list of fields in Rhode Island set up for the 50/70 format. I spoke to Coach Davis and some of the players who really love the 50/70 format and feel that it is a fantastic way to transition players from the “little” field to the “big” field. “Little” fields are set up with a pitcher’s mound that is 46 feet from home plate. The base paths are 60 feet apart. In the 50/70 format, the pitcher’s mound is set at 50 feet from home plate and the base paths are 70 feet apart. A small and important transition to a developing youth baseball player, according to Davis and the CLCF players I spoke to you.

I read through a thorough PDF prepared by Little League explaining the rules and objectives of the 50/70 Intermediate division. If you would like to view this document, click on this link – 50/70 Division. Here are some important points that I got from the explanation:

  • One of the objectives outlined by Little League is that the 50/70 division “allows Little League to adapt with the changing environment of youth baseball”
  • A player can elect to play in multiple divisions during the same season. Here is more from the PDF ” Players will be permitted to be selected to and participate in multiple divisions during the early stages of the Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division.”
  • Pitch counts remain consistent with player age.
  • Players can begin the transition of playing the rules of the “big” field, including leading off base.
  • Games are 7 innings, similar to Junior/Senior league rules
  • Portable pitching mounds can be used to modify a “little” field and thus accommodating the 50 foot rule from pitcher’s mound to the plate.

As players grow and develop physically, this 50/70 Intermediate Division can be an incredible asset to a local youth baseball league. A player can develop good mechanics for throwing strikes from the 50 foot distance. A third baseman can develop good mechanics and techniques with the extra length required to throw out a runner. Base runners, catchers, hitters – there are so many benefits to moving up this transition from the “little” field. Most travel and AAU programs are already utilizing the 50/70 Intermediate field configurations. RI Cal Ripken Baseball programs from Apponaug, CLCF, and Washington Park all have 50/70 divisions. I would love to find out who in RI youth baseball is also utilizing the 50/70 format and how it is affecting their Babe Ruth, Junior/Senior Little League, Middle School, and even High School baseball team’s performance.

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