The Manchester Little League board voted this week to drop its affiliation with national Little League and to become a member of the Tennessee Youth Baseball Association, headquartered in Murfreesboro.
The decision to drop the local affiliation with Little League had been under consideration for some time, according to local youth baseball president Dale Cooper. He said the board voted for Manchester Little League to become Manchester Youth Baseball Association after board members sent out feelers to members of the community. The decision was unanimous, Cooper said.
Changes on a practical level will include slightly lower participation fees, more local rules flexibility, and allowing lead-offs and stealing in games, according to Cooper. Those rules changes would help better prepare players for school competition, he said. Plus, as this spring’s 13-year-old league demonstrated, allowing lead-offs and stealing provides “more excitement” for players and spectators, according to Cooper.
Although rules are still being hammered out, age divisions would continue to be similar to Little League, Cooper said. Ages 4-6 would play tee-ball, coach-pitch would be ages 6-8, and separate divisions would exist for ages 9-10 and 11-12. There will also be a 13-year-old league playing on Wednesdays and Sundays. Cooper said TYBA would allow flexibility for boys to play above their age division if parents desired.
“TYBA doesn’t get involved in your league. They sanction you and insure you, but don’t get involved in your league,” Cooper said. “It should be more parent-friendly, more player-friendly, and community-exciting ball.”
Under TYBA rules, local communities can hold in-season tournaments with all proceeds going to the local organization, according to TYBA founder and director Rick Adams. Cooper said local TYBA tournaments would likely produce as much or more revenue for the Manchester community than a state Little League tournament.
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