STARTING A TEAM

PLAYERS

1. Generally, the older the division, the fewer players needed. Older players are more committed and usually miss games and practices less often. Eleven is about a minimum and fifteen a maximum number of players that seems to work. However, it is important to establish immediately with a team at any level what expectations are regarding attendance.

2. More and more teams are selecting all players in the same grade level. The advantage of this is that the team stays together as it moves through the various grade divisions. Teams are not broken up as some players are forced to move up while others can still play in the lower division. The disadvantage is that every other year the team is going to be among the youngest in its division.

3. Many teams have preseason parents meetings where the manager's expectations and philosophy are explained. While this meeting is not necessary, it can occasionally be helpful, especially for new teams or for groups who are not well known to each other.

4. Finding players is usually not a problem. Once someone commits to the responsibility of managing a team, there seldom is a a shortage of boys willing to play or other parents to help. Starting with school classmates and neighborhood friends, an acceptable number of players can almost always be found. It's probably a good idea to start putting together the team in the fall since the first league meeting is in January. After the baseball season starts, managers are usually besieged with requests to add players to the team. The league discourages tryouts and "cuts" from a team. The philosophy is to be inclusive rather than exclusive. We are trying to provide an enjoyable learning experience for the players.

EQUIPMENT

1. The team should invest in catcher's and also umpire's protective equipment. Purchasing a few bats and helmets is also a good idea although most players will prefer to have their own. In fact, many teams strongly recommend that players purchase their own helmets. Players of course provide their own gloves. A ball/strike indicator is useful for the umpire.

2. Each player is required by the league to have a complete uniform of hat, jersey or t-shirt, pants, belt and socks . Coaches are also expected to at least wear a hat and jersey with team identification.

3. Teams provide new baseballs for their own home games and as a result, a supply of practice balls is quickly developed. However, for a new team, a dozen balls will probably suffice for getting started. It is also important to buy good baseballs for the games. There are some low quality balls that become soft or out-of-round with just a few solid hits.

4. Some type of portable pitching rubber may be necessary, especially if a team's home diamond doesn't have one at the required distance. What seems to work quite well is a 1x4 piece of wood about 18 inches long that is attached to the ground with long nails. It's inexpensive and durable and in fact works much better than the more expensive portable rubbers available.

FUNDING

1. Costs will vary widely depending on team tastes and age. Consequently, it's a good idea to start with a budget. Uniforms cost between $60-$150 each, a few bats and helmets about $120, catcher's and umpire's gear $100, good baseballs are around $35 a dozen, umpire fees about $200 for a season, and league fees of $170-$200. Thus, the total known costs for a new team of 13 players and three coaches will be around $1500. It can be lower depending on the uniform selected and other variables and it will be lower in subsequent years as equipment need not be bought.

2. Most teams charge each player a fee for joining the team although many teams have found sponsors who will defray most or all of the expenses. No matter how the team is funded, it usually is a good idea to determine who will own the equipment once the season ends.

TIME

1. Once the team is formed, managers determine how much time is spent on practice. Prior to the beginning of the league, teams will want to practice at least once or twice per week for 60-90 minutes and players are encouraged to practice on their own. Teams are responsible for finding their own practice times and diamonds.

2. After the season starts, league games are usually twice per week and teams vary widely in how much additional practice they do. All told, the season lasts from about mid-April to mid-July. Scheduling is done by the league although teams may be asked to find and reserve their own home diamond.

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