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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The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.

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