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-Reprint: Author Allan Simpson, Baseball America, Feb.'05 Issue #0504 -(got it today)

USA Baseball has enacted a change in the age cutoff date for youth organizations that could have far-reaching ramifications for the game, possibly even affecting the major leagues down the road.
For more than 60 years, the universal cutoff date for youth baseball competition has been July 31. But USA Baseball, at the behest of its member organizations, passed a resolution at the recent American Baseball Coaches Association convention in Nashville to roll back that date to April 30. The change will go into effect in 2006 at the earliest and 2007 at the latest.
"The entire membership of USA Baseball voted on the change," said Paul Seiler, the organization's executive director. "It is domestic in its impact only."
The impetus for change was brought by Little League Baseball in 2001. The goal of the change is to increase participation by retaining more players in the 12-and-under division, and to bring U.S.-based youth baseball more in line with the standards used in international baseball. Little League proposed Dec. 31 as the age determination date, but it was later amended to April 30.
"Our research has shown that more than 95 percent of all Little League programs start their seasons before May 1," said a spokesman for Little League Baseball. "The change gives the opportunity to those children born in May, June and July to play all or part of their 12-year-old seasons as actual 12-year-olds."
When July 31 was established as the age cutoff date by Little League Baseball in the 1940s, they selected that time because it coincided with the date used by schools in Williamsport, Pa., to divide grade levels. At that time, Little League was the only youth league of its kind and its membership was mostly local.
But as Little League has expanded, and the cutoff dates for schools in the U.S. and elsewhere have changed, the primary reason for July 31 deadline has dissipated. Generally, players born immediately after that date have been shown to have a decided advantage over players born in the months just before it because they are more physically mature and able to dominate their competition at the youth level.
Baseball America research has shown that a majority of players on youth league all-star teams of all age groups are born in the four months immediately after July 31. That advantage carried forward to the major league level, as more 2004 big leaguers were born in August (123) than any other month, and the fewest were born in July (89). -Allan Simpson, Baseball America
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That advantage carried forward to the major league level, as more 2004 big leaguers were born in August (123) than any other month, and the fewest were born in July (89). -Allan Simpson, Baseball America

That's worth repeating. I've mentioned before here, that being the oldest kid on a team is a big advantage. In pitching, that can mean being 4-8 mph over the younger pitchers. Around 9th grade, it can mean 3-4 extra inches of height. Much harder to get cut from the freshman team,

But you'd think the advantage would fade after high school.

Interesting that advantage carries over to the Majors.

Maybe Dads should think about red shirting their little t-ballers Smile
Last edited by micdsguy
I've read somewhere that parents strongly prefer that their kids--especially boys-- be among the eldest in their school class, even though Moms are eager to have the school help with the baby sitting.

An older kid is more likely to have better grades, although I've never seen any stats. Therefore, the younger kid is more likely to struggle with academic eligibility.

I'm going to guess that in the average HS grade, the difference in age between the oldest and youngest kids may be 2 years. Huge.

I'm still a bit dubious about those stats regarding birth months of major leaguers. That could just mean that more babies are born in August than July.
no matter when the cutoffs are set, someone will always have a gripe. Little League for example sets its age grouping from Aug 1 of a given year to July 31 of the next. So the June and July kids (make that parents) gripe. So if the change is made to Jan 1 to December 31, the November/December kids will have the new gripe.

Parents hold kids back, they move them up and it is all just so much BS IMO.

Josh Booty in college football is a great example- he was held back during grade school to be the oldest and biggest in his subsequent grade groups. Then decided to leave high school a year early (which put him back to where he should have been) to enroll at USC, thinking he could compete as a freshman for the starting job. Instead he's now 3 years behind the player (leinart) who won the starting job and Booty will finally get a chance as a junior, only then there's a whole new crop for him to compete against and he may never win the job.

It seems the more you try to manipulate the system and manuver these age cutoffs the bigger mess you create. Talent will ultimately win out. Accept the age you are and the cut off in place, play the hand you're dealt and it will all work out. It has for thousands and thousands in the past.

You are right, nobody will ever be happy. However if they made it Jan. 1st, a kid born in December wouldn't be happy but at least the parents could take consolation in the fact that they were able to claim him as a dependent on their income tax right away.

Savannah, Are you sure this covers all through our Olympic team. I thought the international cutoff is still the first of the year?
Last edited by SBK
The kids who make the all-star team year after year are the ones who go on in baseball. Even the very, very good kids who are born in July have had a large disadvantage when it comes to making all-star teams and getting on travel teams. It seems like being the stud player is more advantageous than playing with older kids unless a player is good enough to be a stud with the older kids.

When they get to HS they are back on even ground but they don't get much of an advantage because a lot of those August, September, October, November birthday kids have been held back (especially the ones who also play football).

Rumor has it that the AD of our HS and another football coach are going to hold back their 14yo 8th grade sons by enrolling them in a private school for a year so that they can be 15yo freshmen and get more playing time in football.
would be nice if college scouts took precise age into consideration. They should be a lot more impressed with an academically-brilliant 15-yo junior who throws 80 than an 18 year old junior who throws 85.

But they're not are they? College coaches are impressed with players that help them win games, as soon as possible, regardless of age height, weight, GPA, SAT or date of birth. Period.
The only disadvantage a kid has, regarding birth dates, is the attitude that he is at a disadvantage. Pre-determined excuses just don't cut it.

I had an August birthday.....I should have been one of the oldest in my baseball playing group....instead I played with the older groups and was almost always the youngest one out there.....was I at a disadvantage? Heck no!!

I was a late-bloomer, too!!!
Having been a 15yo junior (that is I didn't turn 16 until after my senior year had begun) who probably threw less than 80 I've got to ask you how many 15yo juniors do you think there are? I certainly didn't get looks from scouts as a senior while kids who in 10th grade were older than me but not as good of players did. (I did get my looks from scouts later on and wasn't good enough.)

College and pro scouts certainly do take age into consideration but if a player is a bubble player relative to that level of ball due to being a year younger it isn't going to make up for the difference in performance on the field.

The pro scouts will probably make a bit more of an allowance for age but they'll also take the added risk of a younger player into consideration. Of course Delmon Young was a young player for his grade so if you've got that kind of talent it doesn't really matter.
Last edited by CADad

I respect your opinion. Successful coaches are very proactive in monitoring academic progress and class atendance, on a weekly and daily basis. They do everything they can to help the kids stay eligible and hopefully graduate. I just keep hearing of kids admitted to schools, NCAA qualifiers with academic advisors, etc. barely scraping by, or flunking out all together.

I think coaches sign borderline students, put them in the system and hope for the best. I don't fault them for it. Of course they would all prefer to have 3.5 GPA, 1200 SAT signees who can't wait for the next class.

I'll agree with you that grades and GPA's can help, but based on what I've seen they are secondary to the players skills on the field.

The exceptions of course, are the individual schools admission guidlines such as the Patriot League, the Ivies, Richmond, Rice, etc.

If the kid can't play, then why would the coach be impressed with his grades? JMO
I've got to ask you how many 15yo juniors do you think there are?

Very rare. Less than 1% around here, usually because they skipped a grade. But such a kid is probably going to improve more than an older junior. He may even grow another 3-6 inches.

I was using 15 as an extreme example; but there are a fair number of mid-16-yo juniors.

Wonder how many juniors are 18? I don't know.
Last edited by micdsguy
Just a thought.

Kid A turns 11 April 30th.
Kid B Turns 13 On May 1st.

Kid A plays half of his first year in the Bronco division of PONY baseball at age 10. He now is facing Kid B: who plays the second half of his Bronco Division at age 13. We all know that PONY Bronco Division is 11 and 12 YO.

I had 12 YO that were throwing in the low 70s from that 48' mound. And in the PONY Division 13 and 14 YO kid throwing in the low 70s at 54'. Now we put these 13 YO back down to a 48' mound and the result is +6 to 10 MPH on their fastball. I don't think this is a good move for safety reasons. At 11 and 12 you still have kids learning the game and are not at a level to be able to get out of the way of a wild pitch at 65 MPH let alone a potential fastball at 75+ MPH.

Just a thought. I know that this is a 'done deal' I just think there is a safety issue that may not have been taken into account. IMHO.
Last edited by HotCornerDad
I agree with you in general but you are only getting a 3 month age difference so you'll see at most a 2 or 3 mph speed increase in Bronco over what they are currently seeing.

In other words the kid who turns 13 on May 1st probably wasn't a low 70s pitcher the previous year as a young 12yo. Your low 70s pitchers with only a very few exceptions were probably August through November birthdays.

We have one kid this year just learning the game as a 14yo in Pony. Fortunately, he's on the same team as the league's high 70s pitcher. Even so, there are several mid 70s pitchers he'll have to face including one 13yo.
Maybe, we will get a chance to see it first hand in the next year or two depending on league adoption practices. I haven't see any office word from PONY on when they expect their charters to comply. My youngest is mad that he may spend another year in Pinto, (7&8) his birthday is May 2nd, he will be one of those 8 year olds playing half the season at 9.
I don't think Pony has bought into the new ages yet, although they'll probably have to.

This is my son's first year in Pony so I'm not that familiar with the all-star tournament formats but I expect that our league should do pretty well in Pony as they've got most of the best kids from a couple different leagues that each went pretty far back in Bronco a couple years ago. The 13yos are in a similar position plus they pulled in the LLWS pitcher who won the US championship game.

The Executive Director's statement was, "the decision is only domestic in its impact". You are right, the international date is Dec. 31. Little League Baseball actually did recommend Dec. 31, but, the other members amended it to April 30. It was voted and passed by the U.S. delegation unanimously. Now, it has to pass the international vote which is usually a rubber stamp.

I have to assume (*opinion here) that moving more than 3 months probably seemed too drastic after 60 years at July 31. The April 30th date solves the problem for the most part, of having 12-year-olds play as 12-year-olds instead of some kids never being able to play their final season as an actual 12-year-old.

Folks, take away your own child's birthday a minute, and you'll have to agree this is a good move. That's why it was unanimously passed.

The article comes from Baseball America, but there is a lot more info. about the change on the Little League Baseball web site.
It'll have little or no effect on the kids with August or September birthdays. The negative effect will be for the kids with the March, April birthdays just like it always was for the June, July birthdays. It will end up losing a lot of players in the 14yo age group because now a 4th of the kids who are considered 14yo are that much more likely to be playing HS ball. You'll also see a LLWS where the kids are predominantly 13yo instead of just having a few 13yo on each team. The LLWS will be even more of a mismatch as the best pitchers will be throwing 2 or 3 mph harder at 46' and will simply throw the ball by the hitters even more so than they do today.

All that has happened is that you've switched who it is good for and who it is bad for. Nothing has been improved. You've traded not having 11yo for having kids who are 13yo for their entire season. The difference between a young 11yo and an old 12yo is less than the difference between the youngest 12yo and the oldest 13yo you'll see with the new age group because you are more likely to see differences in maturity level as the kids move into puberty. You've increased the disparities within the age groups.

The age change itself is a small negative. When you add in the confusion and trouble implementing the change will cause for the first year or two it is very definitely a mistake.
It will drive out 14yo from rec ball and will simply trade 13yo for 11yo in Bronco or the equivalent. The first year or two you'll lose more players than you'll gain simply because there is a change being made. After things settle down you'll have fewer players overall due to the loss of 14yos. The Bronco and equivalent divisions will stay about the same, but if anything will drop in numbers because you get fewer players as they get older and having an age group that averages 3 mo. older will result in fewer players.

The best move would be to move the age 3 months the other way to make it more consistent with school ages. That would result in more players in all divisions and 12yo playing in the LLWS. You'd lose even more kids in the short run because some kids would lose a year of baseball so you'd have to have a temporary way of allowing some of the kids to keep playing until you had a whole generation who had started at the new age playing but it would certainly make for fairer divisions and more players in the long run.
Last edited by CADad
Who cares what the date for the age cutoff is? Let's be real here folks, it is kids playing baseball. If the kid is a stud they will be seen and everything will take care of itself. My sons DOB is 3-24 and I just feel like it will give him additional opportunities to show that he can play with the older more mature kids.
By moving the age cutoff by three months you simply make everyone in the 12u divisions 3 months older. We all know that the older kids get the less likely they are to continue in baseball. One could argue that nothing will change since it will be the same "age group" but I'd say that it is a function of age and that in the long run you'll have fewer players in your 12u division simply because they are older.

As far as the 14yo's go if more of them are playing HS ball then there'll be less competition in Pony league for the 13yo and the 14yo 8th graders. As a result they'll be less ready for HS ball. That's just a personal bias on my part as my son is a 13yo 8th grader who needs to see all the competition he can this year.
Last edited by CADad
Ya, I see what you are saying, but the result of moving the cutoff up earlier by three months means that you will have less 11-year-olds playing their last 12U season. I think it is much more unfair that these kids never get a chance to play 12U baseball as 12-year-olds. Also, the research done by Little League Baseball indicates that this will increase the number of kids. Or why would they do it!

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