Little League International is changing their birthday cutoff from May 1st to August 31st. This rule change goes in effect, for those 10U and under, January 1st of 2017. For the 11U age group it takes effect 2018. And for the 12U age group it takes effect in 2019. PONY baseball is also following suit starting 2018. No others, including Cal Ripken, Babe Ruth and USSSA are following suit.
You can see the somewhat confusing age charts on this link here.
As Little League is such an influential body, many leagues have followed suit and even more parents have been wondering how it will affects their child’s league. Below we attempt to answer the who, what and why of the baseball age change.
Baseball Age Change By National Body
- Cal Ripken – No Change (Still April 30)
- Pony – Yes, to August 31st like Little League*
- Little League – Yes, to August 31st*
- Babe Ruth – No
- USSSA – No
*Do note that the 12U group for 2018 will be able be grandfathered to the old age (April 30th) for the 2018 season. The rule change will effect the all age groups (including 12U) on January 1, 2019. It will effect all the age groups but 12U starting January 1, 2018.
(If you know of others, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social)
2018 Baseball Age Changes Sources
A number of serious publications have covered the age change rules and implications for Little League. Little League’s second announcement on the age change rule is the most authoritative. They are, after all, the group creating all the hubbub. Among other dominant publications, ESPN put together an announcement on the matter, too. This makes sense considering their Little League World Series is a flagship presentation on ESPN’s late summer broadcast.
We also exchanged emails with a couple different folks at USSSA corporate offices.
2018 Baseball Age Change Rules
The rule change is simple enough. Age birthday cutoffs for a given year will change from May 1st to August 31st. This rule goes into effect beginning 2018. In the first year it will not apply to 12U, or said differently, those born May 1st to August 31st 2005 can play 12U baseball. Otherwise, expect summer birthday boys to become the youngest on Little League team, rather than the oldest.
In short, this makes it so no one playing in the Little League World Series, or other major baseball tournaments sponsored by Little League, are 13 years old in a 12U tournament.
The claim Little League makes is that the age birthday change puts them more in line with international age birthday cutoffs. Although wreaking havoc in some circles, the idea does make some sense.
Baseball Age Change Fallout
If Little League International was the only governing body on the planet, this shift would be rather simple. Summer birthday kids could simply expect to find or create a new team for 2018 and beyond. At a maximum this would be irritating and inconvenient.
But the problem extends beyond this because Little League is not the only governing body on the planet for youth baseball. Indeed, USSSA, PONY, Babe Ruth and a host of other competitive baseball groups, including Triple Crown and Perfect Game, use the May 1st birthday cutoff. When teams are created at a neighborhood level, it is not uncommon for teams to play across multiple associations as they are not tied to a governing body. As such, it will now be possible to put together a team that is ineligible in some leagues.
On a somewhat humorous note, there was a petition on change.org gaining signatures against the age change. Apparently this was even handed to the Senior Vice President Of Operations of Little League International.
On the whole, we are not opposed to the change even if we think it is much ado about nothing. But the numerous organizations that follow their own set of rules, and the fact many players cross over leagues often, makes keeping track of it and planning for the coming years difficult.
Unaffiliated Travel Ball Teams
Many unaffiliated travel ball leagues are struggling to find a solution, especially as major non-Little League organizations have been rather quiet on the matter. Considering we no less than 10 months out, and many teams formed now are also based on next year’s run, you can expect some anxious coaches and parents.
Babe Ruth will NOT be changing their age cut off dates. They made that public on their social media as well as on their age chart.
PONY Age Changes
We have been told that PONY baseball is also changing their age changes to August 1st for the 2018 season. They have yet to put any information on their site, but through the grape vine we were told they announced it at a meeting during president’s day.
USSSA Age Change
We sent two emails to different people up the chain of command in the USSSA administration. The first, our local Rocky Mountain office, said there has been no official announcement. The second, a national administrator for USSSA baseball based in Phoenix said, “USSSA will not be changing our current age cut off for baseball.“
However, they also have nothing on their website.
If the National Administrator is right, and we suspect she is, then it is probably a good idea they starting telling the people that work in the organization, so they can get the word out to those organizing teams today. And if USSSA’s response is indicative of other groups’ responses to Little League age changes (as in no change and no response), we offer the same advice to PONY, Cal Ripken, Babe Ruth, etc.—let your people know so they can let coaches and players know how best to prepare for coming seasons of baseball.