Dear Somerset Hills Baseball and Softball Families –
We’re very excited to announce that our organization, formerly known as Somerset Hills Little League (SHLL) is changing our name to Somerset Hills Ball Club (SHBC) for the 2022 year and beyond. As part of this change, our organization has established a charter with Babe Ruth League, Inc., which provides tball, softball and baseball playing opportunities to children from ages 4 up to 18!
This new affiliation allows us to provide the same great league offerings that you’ve come to expect and trust us with – baseball and softball leagues run by dedicated volunteers in a safe environment for your kids to learn sportsmanship, honesty, loyalty, courage and respect. This also creates a more flexible infrastructure that allows our league to define parameters within our recreational leagues that work for us. This new organization also combines our recreational and travels programs under the same umbrella that will have long and short term benefits across all levels. As part of this transition, we will no longer be affiliated with Little League Baseball and Softball.
The following includes answers to some questions that league members have asked and/or may be most interested in hearing about. We couldn’t be more excited for the future of Somerset Hills Ball Club and the nearly 400 children that participate on an annual basis.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Babe Ruth League?
The Babe Ruth Baseball/Softball programs above all, are of, by and for our youth. It’s mission is to make better citizens through proper supervision of regulation competitive baseball and softball in addition to promoting mental and physical development and basic ideals of sportsmanship and fair play. Within the organization is Cal Ripken Baseball (ages 4-12), Babe Ruth Baseball (ages 13-18), Babe Ruth Softball (ages 4-18) and Bambino Buddy Ball, which is similar to LL Challenger Day that we’ve participated in (for ages 5-20). Babe Ruth League, Inc’s. fundamental belief is that every child with a desire to play baseball or softball be afforded that opportunity. The organization’s mission would make the baseball immortal for whom the program is named very proud.
Why did we make the decision to transition from Little League to Babe Ruth?
Age adjusted league definitions ensure kids play recreation baseball/softball with their classmates and friends based on school grade level and not predefined arbitrary cutoffs. In the past, the rec cutoff was generally September 1st for baseball and January 1st for softball (regardless of grade).
Youth Softball has been underserved in our community and by Little League. This transition will provide improved infrastructure and bring up the level of play for our girls.
Offers baseball and softball opportunities after age 12 – where Little League provides less emphasis and support. This provides our league and your kids an opportunity to continue to improve their skills beyond 6th/7th grade and prepares them for high school if their desire is to play at that level.
Cal Ripken Baseball better prepares young baseball players for the transition to the standard field (60-foot pitching distance and 90-foot base paths) used in higher levels of the game by increasing field dimensions at the Majors level. This includes introducing additional rules like leading off the base – allowing kids to play a higher level of baseball at a younger age.
Combining recreational and travel programs will provide more opportunities for interested players to play more baseball. This includes an option to create multiple teams with varying levels of commitment per age group for travel – a limiting restriction via Little League.
This format allows coaches to focus on player development and building a collaborative multi-level approach to improving player skills throughout their youth career. This includes more transparency for parents on team creation.
Reduced administrative requirements for volunteers, allowing board members to focus their time and energy on the things that matter. For example, a priority leading into the 2022 year is working with the town on Claremont and Rose Bowl field improvements, coordinating with area partners on scheduling clinics, and building on the existing culture that puts kids first.
How does this change impact age classification for travel teams?
Travel baseball and softball will follow the age classifications established by the Babe Ruth (and Cal Ripken for Baseball up to age 12) organization. For Baseball, the age cutoff is April 30th and for Softball, it is December 31st for age classifications. This is a change for baseball, where the Little League cut-off was August 31st, but not for softball, which will continue to be calendar year.
How does this impact this past year’s Somerset Hills travel baseball teams?
We recognize that the Cal Ripken travel program has different age cutoffs than Little League. Players will be subject to the new age eligibility rules starting in 2022. This may impact the roster your son/daughter will play on next year. We will do our best to ensure your child has the best experience in our Travel program moving forward. We have dedicated coaches across our age groups that will give your child the best opportunity to improve their skills. For baseball coaches, this may impact your team’s roster. We appreciate the time and dedication you have put into the development of the players on your team to date and want to work with you to make this league transition as seamless as possible. Your participation in our Travel committee will help the league, your current/future team and the players you have and will coach moving forward. This decision was not made lightly and while we understood there would be impacts to our volunteer coaches, we felt the benefits were too great not to move to Cal Ripken.
Why are we no longer participating in Little League?
Little League is an established brand and spends a lot in resources marketing that brand – including their annual LLWS. Participating in that brand has become overwrought with administrative work that has little return on the development of our players and the infrastructure that Little League provides is archaic and flawed – requiring too much time of our volunteers.
Cal Ripken provides a more flexible infrastructure that allows our League to define parameters within our recreational leagues that work for us. It reduces the administrative functions substantially and allows us to repurpose that time to growing our league and players. While the Babe Ruth World Series isn’t as heavily marketed, they have had their championships televised on ESPN’s networks and sponsor other youth tournaments throughout the summer.
Will Somerset Hills Ball Club Participate in the district tournament that leads to the Babe Ruth World Series?
Our league’s travel baseball and softball sub-committee will work annually with our travel Head Coaches to assist in planning for each travel season. That includes entering teams that wish to participate in the Babe Ruth Summer District Tournament. Our local district tournament then leads to a regional qualifying tournament and then the Babe Ruth World Series. Some details on the Babe Ruth World Series are included in this link. https://baberuthworldseries.org/#/
Was this decision made to benefit board member’s children?
Please know that no individual child was a consideration for this change, especially those of the board. All of our decisions are based on what is best for the entirety of our community’s children.
When will Somerset Hills Ball Club open Spring recreation baseball and softball registration?
Early January 2022
When will the league communicate details on 2022 Somerset Hills Travel Baseball and Softball?
The Somerset Hills Ball Club travel baseball and softball committee and interested coaches will meet in January to discuss plans at various age groups for the 2022 season.
What is Somerset Hills Ball Club’s new website?
You will hear more from us soon as it relates to registration for the Spring recreation season.
Somerset Hills Ball Club Board