Hello parents and players of Dearborn Baseball!

We’re excited to begin another season of Dearborn Baseball and Fastpitch. Since 1982, our organization has been committed to developing sportsmanship, teamwork, self-esteem and pride in our players, while offering an opportunity for families and neighbors to spend time together and for children to get exercise outdoors.

Dearborn Baseball is a member of the national organization PONY Baseball and Softball (PONY stands for Protecting Our Nation’s Youth). PONY Baseball has adopted 3 new rules that will affect our players starting this season.

The rule changes being instituted nationally by PONY are primarily focused on the safety of players and will effect 1) the birthday cutoff dates for divisions, 2) pitch counts per player, and 3) updated standards for bats.

1. PONY Baseball is instituting a new birthday cutoff date.

NOTE: The Board of Directors of Dearborn Baseball will not be instituting this change for 2018, We are maintaining the age cutoff for this year due to our Travel Teams already participating in USSSA Tournaments, which also have not yet made the change. This rule change will be re-evaluated before the 2019 season. Most baseball organizations – including our league and all other Pony Baseball leagues – have used an age cutoff of April 30th. To put it simply, currently whatever age your child is as of April 30 will determine their ‘baseball age’ for the season.

The new PONY rule changes this cutoff date to August 31st. This means, for example, a player born in June 2012 would currently be considered a six year old player (because he/she would have been six years old as of April 30, 2018). Under the new age cutoff, this same player would be considered a seven year old player (because he/she would be seven years old as of August 31).

For players born in months outside May-August, there will be no change in age calculations. For players born in months May, June, July, and August will skip a “baseball year”. This change will be an adjustment for all leagues next season. This change will affect all youth baseball leagues across the nation (USA Baseball & Little League International) and is expected to affect some travel ball associations as well, although USSSA Baseball, Cal Ripken, Babe Ruth, and AABC have not made the change yet. Some players will be moving up a level beyond where parents expected to be, causing some concern for safety and development. Some players who were dominant at one age group might level off in an older division. Unfortunately, some players will ‘age out’ and lose their final season of baseball.

Change is hard, and this change will be a challenging one. First, keep in mind that every youth baseball league in the country is in the same situation. One third of every league will skip a baseball year. Next year will undoubtedly be an adjustment year for everyone, but I do think our league has the foresight to minimize our adjustment period better and faster than competing leagues. Our league already challenges these kids to learn real baseball earlier than most, so this change will only continue us on the path we are already on. We hope this may ease the transition without compromising our product. The goal of this national change was to keep school grades age players together.

As stated the Board of Dearborn Baseball will keep April 30 for 2018, and will re-evaluate for the 2019 season.

2) PONY is instituting mandatory pitch counts and pitching limits for players.

As will be stated in Section 10 “Pitching Rules” and T-8 “Tournament Pitching,” any team member may pitch, subject to the restrictions of the pitch count, as recommended by MLB Pitch Smart Guidelines, for all age divisions. Pitchers reaching their maximum number of pitches in a day, while pitching to a batter, may finish pitching to that batter before being removed.

A pitcher is charged with the number of pitches in the specific calendar day and week in which they are pitched, regardless of whether they are local organization league games, the playoff of postponed games or suspended games, tie games, or exhibition games. Rest is calculated as per calendar day. No pitcher shall appear in a game as a pitcher for three consecutive days, regardless of pitch count.

3) PONY is instituting new bat standards.

In conjunction with USA Baseball and its other participating national member organizations, PONY Baseball has adopted the new USA Baseball bat standard (USABat). Effective January 1, 2018, with the exception of -3 (BBCOR certified), all other 2 1/4″ and 2 5/8″ barrel bats with a minus factor of (-5, -7, -9, etc.), must be USABat certified with the USABat licensing stamp on the bat in order to be used for league and tournament play.

All 2 1/4″ and 2 5/8″ minus factor bats -5, -7, -9, etc. used in 2017 will be illegal to use in 2018. (we reserve the right to limit size please see division rules) Tee ball bats are not required to undergo lab testing to receive approval under the USABat program. However, to be approved for play, tee ball bats must carry the USA Baseball mark accompanied by the following text: “Only For Use With Approved Tee Ball Bats.”

If you already have a tee ball bat you would like to continue using this will be fine. Except for Colt Division, Dearborn Baseball is not real strict with the bat rule, so don’t feel compelled to go out and purchase a new bat. Please be very careful when buying discount bats online and from discount stores.

These rule changes have been established by PONY with overall player safety in mind. Thank you for your understanding and support as we move forward in instituting these changes.

Mark J. Dawdy  – President, Dearborn Baseball