Category Archives: Little League

Travel baseball threatens original

The other night, I had a discussion with a former coaching colleague about whether the overwhelming popularity of travel baseball will someday replace Little League and other community sports leagues.Little League baseball, perhaps the oldest and most tradition-rich youth sports league in the world, recently changed its postseason rules to accompany travel baseball players, fearing that if it didn’t, even more would migrate permanently to the organization’s newest competitor.

Over the years, Little League baseball has often been imitated, but never equaled. There is only one Little League, one Williamsport, and one magical summer weekend when even the non-sports fan can’t help but tune in to watch innocent pre-pubescent boys play on national television.

But with the ever-increasing popularity of travel sports, can local community leagues like Little League survive?

It used to be that only the best athletes played travel sports. Today, as long as a parent is willing to commit the money and time, a travel team can be found for a player of any skill level.

There are definitely advantages to playing on a travel team: Playing as many games in one weekend tournament as a traditional league does in an entire month; playing against top competition; not having to line the base paths, umpire a game or work in the concession stand; and traveling to new and sometimes exciting places.

And yet I would argue that there are several aspects of community sports leagues that can’t be found in travel baseball, and none of them involve hitting homeruns or scoring a lot of goals.

Community leagues give parents and players just that – a sense of community. They can take pride in their home field and stadium. And there’s always that feeling of being at home at the ballpark, even if your team is wearing the away jerseys.

Playing in a community-based league is about playing with and against your friends. It’s about a parent sitting on a lawn chair in the outfield cheering for a neighbor, who happens to be playing for the opposing team.

Not once during my 10-plus trips to a travel tournament at a baseball complex two hours from my house did I ever feel at home, despite spending more hours there over two summers than I ever did during my son’s eight years of Little League baseball.

I don’t write this column to diminish the value of travel sports or to suggest they should or will ever go away.

I just hope I never have to write a column titled, “Whatever happened to Little League?”



La. bat makers join for low-vibration aluminum bat

When inventor Joel Albin of Livingston launched a line of aluminum bats, he quickly stumbled over a seeming paradox: other bat makers wanted to buy his company, Albin Athletics, but retail chains didn’t know about the firm or want its bats.

The owners of Marucci Bat Co. in Baton Rouge, known nationally for its wood bats, were also fielding offers for their company. Eventually, Jack Marucci, Kurt Ainsworth and Joe Lawrence, the owners of Marucci Bat, and Albin formed a joint venture, Marucci/Albin, to make aluminum bats under the Marucci label.

Albin said he’s not sure who approached whom.

“They started saying this would be a good deal, and I started saying this would be a good deal. Some way or another it just came together,” Albin said.

Jean McGuire, a professor in LSU’s Rucks Department of Management, said the two companies obviously hope there will be synergies between Marucci’s brand name and marketing skills and Albin Athletics’ metal bat-making know-how.

Albin Athletics gets access to brand recognition, marketing, a sales force and perhaps more money for research, McGuire said.

Marucci Bat Co. gains access to a new product line and new technologies without the expense of having to develop that expertise on its own. For example, Albin Athletics has patented a device that eliminates much of the bat’s vibration.


Little League Baseball: MVP Resistance Bands for Baseball

Little League Baseball

Little League Baseball

Little League International is proud to announce a multi-year license agreement with the MVP Band – a resistance training device that strengthens a players arm. The unique neoprene wristband of the MVP Band sets it apart from all other resistance bands. The design forces the user to focus on building the muscles that comprise the rotator cuff while at the same time reinforcing proper arm angles and mechanics. Rotator cuff injuries are widespread among both youth and adult baseball/softball players, and studies attribute the cause to both overuse and improper throwing mechanics. Surprisingly, the rotator cuff muscles are the most prone to injury yet very little time and emphasis is focused on this area.In 2008, Little League Baseball incorporated the program within its summer baseball camps in Williamsport, Pa., and gained praise from both camp officials and Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball. “By aligning ourselves with the MVP Band we continue to take a leadership position in youth sports safety and injury prevention,” Mr. Keener said. “MVP Band is a scientifically proven product with the backing of clinical testing. As a result of this agreement, we are proud to offer the benefits of the MVP band to our 7,500 baseball and softball programs across the country.”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Little League Baseball, the world’s largest organized youth sports program”, states Dave Miramontes, Founder and CEO of the MVP Band & Program. “We see the MVP Band as another way to help LLB reduce the risk of future arm related injuries, while at the same time helping to improve a player’s confidence and ability.” As a current Little League Coach, former Division I and Minor League baseball player, Mr. Miramontes had great success as a pitcher, but spent most of his youth career with a sore arm and in the training room during his collegiate tenure. “It seems that both parents and players have accepted the notion that sore arms and baseball are synonymous,”

Mr. Miramontes said. “In creating the MVP Band & Program, I now have opportunity eliminate this stigma by providing an easy-to-use and portable device to improve one’s arm, while providing a program that can be used throughout one’s entire career.” Mr. Miramontes will work closely with Nick Caringi, Little League International Senior Director of Operations and Education. They have been working together for more than a year to create a universal, yet simplistic program that will be available to all Little League players and the thousands of volunteer coaches. “I am confident that this will be a long and rewarding relationship for Little League” said Mr. Caringi.

Under the guidance of Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D., the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) and California State University recently conducted a scientific study of the MVP Band & Program. Dr. Fleisig is best known for his pitching research. Many Major League Baseball organizations have turned to Dr. Fleisig and ASMI for biomechanical evaluations to reduce pitching injuries and improve performance. Dr. Fleisig is also a consultant with Little League Baseball and Softball, and a member of the USA Baseball Safety Committee. In the ASMI study, thirty-two youth baseball players were divided into two groups for a four-week period. One group was trained with the MVP Band & Program, while the other was not.

The study showed that the trained group increased their thrown ball velocity significantly more than the control group did. Furthermore, most of the players in the training group believed that the program improved their shoulder flexibility, shoulder strength, and ball speed. “The study demonstrated the MVP Band arm conditioning program to be beneficial, particularly in increasing ball velocity,” Dr. Fleisig said, “because youth are often involved in multiple sports and activities and often have a shorter attention span than older athletes, a short-term baseball conditioning program may be attractive. Participation in the program for longer than four weeks may lead to more benefits; however this was beyond the scope of the current study.”

Little League Baseball and Softball continues to take the lead in injury prevention through education and the implementation of rules designed to prevent injury. The MVP Band Program provides the perfect complement to the recent pitch count rule that limits the number of pitches a player can throw per game. With consistent use of the MVP Band & Program, players have reported improvement in their performance, and more importantly, have reduced arm soreness/tenderness during their entire season of play.

About the MVP Band

The MVP Band is unlike your typical exercise tube. The unique neoprene wrist cuffs enable your hands to remain free of the device, therefore enabling the user to isolate the stretch more directly to the rotator cuff muscles. In addition to pre-game warm-ups, players will also find benefit from using the MVP Band in-between innings by simulating a throwing motion right inside the dugout. With more than 21 exercises and six warm up stretches, the MVP Band Program is thorough.

For Little League Baseball, the MVP Band Program has implemented three pre-game stretches & seven band exercises that every player should perform before they begin practices and/or games. The MVP Band is available in both a Junior and Pro Series. The MVP Band is a customized product made for Baseball, Softball, Tennis, and other sports using an overhand throwing motion. For more information about the MVP Band & Program, visit

Little League International

P.O. Box 3485 539

US Route 15 Hwy

Williamsport, PA 17701-0485

Phone: 570-326-1921 Fax: 570-326-1074


Little League loses kids when they hit teen years

NEW YORK – Nothing beats the start of baseball season, and I don’t mean the big leagues. I’m talking about Little League kids picking up mitts and bats for the first time in months, getting to know new teammates and coaches, and looking sharp in clean uniforms, before the inevitable grass stains sully those white pants and their cleats get caked with mud.Parents love the fresh start, too. There’s nothing I’d rather do on a sunny spring day than watch my son play baseball. That first game in April always fills me with hope that this might be the best team ever, with the best coach ever, playing the best season ever.

There’s just one problem. My son is 11, and before he even met his team this year, he announced that this would be his last season.

He’s not alone in veering away from youth baseball as he nears adolescence. Two million kids ages 5-12 play Little League, but only 240,000 kids ages 13-18 play, according to Little League Baseball spokesman Christopher Downs. Downs says the organization is working on retaining older players and on involving teenagers in other ways, as volunteer coaches and umpires. Little League has also worked with ESPN to televise teenage divisions’ World Series.  Full Story…

Little League Bulletin: Labeling on Certain Bat Models

Little League Baseball

Little League Baseball

It has been brought to the attention of Little League officials that there are a few bats for sale in stores or that may have already been purchased that carry the Little League approval, but do not have the required bat performance standard markings.The Little League Rulebook states that beginning January 1, 2009, all non-wood bats used for play in Little League Baseball (majors and below) shall be printed with a bat performance factor (BPF) of 1.15 or less. While the bats we have identified pass the BPF standard and other standards of proportion and measurement, they do not have the proper label.

These bats are in the marketplace for a variety of circumstances. After review by Little League officials, it has been determined that these bats may remain in the marketplace and shall be allowed for play during the 2009 season only, with the understanding that these bats shall not be allowed for play after December 31, 2009, even though some improperly labeled bats may still remain in the marketplace, or retained by leagues and players after the 2010 deadline.

Also, check the model you are purchasing. If these bats, like the Vanquish, are replaced with corrected labeling, and have the BPF 1.15 label, they will be allowed after 2009. Specifically, the bats in question are as follow:

Adidas Vanquish Blue design (There is a newer model of this bat, also named the Vanquish and it has copper and black markings. It contains the proper labeling and therefore is not subject to the one-year rule).

DeMarini Black Coyote





Easton LZ-810

Louisville Slugger YB31