Q. What happens at Evaluations?
A. Small groups of players are run through a series of drills to assess their baseball skill set. It’s not a competition, and no one gets “cut”. It’s simply so that we can gauge skills and build the fairest teams possible.
Q. What gear does my player need?
A. Players will need a baseball glove, baseball pants (color specified by the coach), a belt, socks and cleats. The league provides a jersey and a hat. Optional items include a bat (kids share), batting gloves, a game bag, etc.
Q. How often will my son or daughter’s team practice and play?
A. Typically there will be one practice and one game per week in the Fall, and in the Spring there will be two or three “baseball events” (some combination of practices and games) each week. Because of the difficulty of scheduling our large number of teams into limited field space, there sometimes will be two games in a week and sometimes a week without games. In addition to regular practice, some coaches may schedule optional sessions at the East Beach batting cages.
Q. When and where do practices and games occur?
A. Almost all games are played at Mackenzie Park. In the spring, practices occur at city parks including Dwight Murphy, Ortega, and Cabrillo. Practices typically occur on weekday afternoons. Games may occur either on weekends or weekday afternoons. In the fall, all practices and games are at Mackenzie Park.
Q. How long do games last?
A. Games last from 75 minutes to about 2 hours, depending on the age group. There is a time limit, but we try to play complete innings, so game times vary.
Q. When does the season start and end?
A. Teams are formed for the spring season in February. The season, including playoffs, is concluded before Memorial Day weekend. Fall runs about September 1 up to Thanksgiving.
Q. How many players are on a team and how many play at once?
A. We strive to have no more than 12 players on a team. In the Shetland and Pinto divisions, ten play in the field at a time (four outfielders); in the other divisions, nine. All players present bat in the order no matter whether they are playing in the field at the time or not.
Q. How is playing time distributed?
A. It is the policy of Santa Barbara Pony baseball that no player may sit out a second inning in a given game before each player present has sat out once. Each player is also guaranteed one infield inning per game. Coaches are authorized to curtail playing time for players who miss practices.
Q. Who coaches the teams?
A. You do! Santa Barbara Pony Baseball teams are coached by volunteer coaches. Most, but not all, have children in the league. Each team has a head coach and at least one (usually more) assistant coaches. Volunteers are screened by the LiveScan process and receive a coaching clinic from the UCSB baseball coaching staff, and attend at least one Positive Coaching Alliance workshop.
Q. What does my league registration fee pay for?
A. Field rental and maintenance supplies, uniforms (jersey and cap), balls, field equipment, insurance, team equipment (helmets and catcher’s gear), umpires and more.
Q. Are there any costs beyond the league registration fee?
A. Players provide their own gloves, bats, shoes, socks, and pants (your coach will tell you what color to buy). Some teams also choose to collect money for trophies or other items at the end of the season. This is arranged by a team parent.
Q. Am I required to volunteer?
A. Yes, absolutely! Volunteer participation is an essential part of being a Pony Baseball parent. Parents are required to staff the “Snack Shack” (the revenue from which helps support the league), typically for one shift at some point during the season. The home team is also required to prepare the field (rake/water/lines) and provide a scorekeeper. Volunteer help is also asked with two other important fundraisers: the special Opening Day event, and raffle ticket sales at the start of the season. Your coach or team parent will provide details on all these.
Q. Does my son/daughter have to try out?
A. We conduct an evaluations day prior to team formation to aid in creating balanced teams. However, this is not a tryout: nobody is ‘cut’, registration is open, and everyone plays. The evaluation is simply for creating balanced teams.
Q. What else do you do to keep games balanced?
A. In the Shetland, Pinto and Mustang divisions there is a limit on the number of runs that can be scored per inning. In addition to pitch count limits, we also limit each pitcher to a small number of innings per game. This prevents a single dominant pitcher from having too great an effect.
Q. Can my son or daughter play on the same team as a particular friend?
A. In the Shetland and Pinto divisions (ages 5-8) this can often be arranged. In the Mustang and Bronco divisions (ages 9-12) it cannot be guaranteed, because teams are formed by draft, but we encourage your requests.
Q. Are there opportunities to coach?
A. Absolutely, especially in the younger divisions. Step up and do it; it will be one of the most fun things you ever do, and there is no better way to spend a spring or fall afternoon.
Q. What does the league do to limit injury risk?
A. The safety of each child is our most important priority. Baseball can be a rough and tumble game. Getting hit by the ball is sometimes part of it. All players are required to wear helmets when at bat and on the bases. In the Shetland, Pinto and Mustang divisions, helmets are required to have face masks. Dugouts are fully protected by fences. Access to the playing area is carefully limited to players in the game plus one on-deck hitter. In the Shetland division we use soft ‘safety’ baseballs, and in the Pinto division we use a Reduced Injury Factor (RIF) ball.
Q. I’ve heard stories of arm trouble with kid pitchers. What does the league do about that?
A. Santa Barbara Pony Baseball strictly enforces pitch count limits and pitching rest requirements, in accordance with best practices described in the coaching and sports medicine literature.
Q. What bats are legal in Pony baseball?
A. From the PONY rule book:
Q. This sounds great. What should I do next?
A. Register. We’ll see you at the ballpark!