The Purpose of the Youth Baseball League

1.0       Introduction

When I Timothy 4:8 is quoted, most often only the first part of the verse is quoted, “bodily exercise profiteth little.” But the last part of the verse is very important. It says, but godliness is profitable unto all things. Baseball in and of itself is of little value.  But baseball as a tool to teach godliness is of great value. This verse is printed on the arm of every uniform. It should be first and foremost remembered that we are a ministry of the First Baptist Church of Hammond.

 

2.0       Goals

2.1        The purpose of the First Baptist Church Youth Baseball Leagues is to help prepare young men to serve God. It is a teaching ministry designed to teach character traits and godliness on the baseball diamond.

2.2        Character traits cannot be learned unless the young man is exposed to situations that demand the use of those traits. For example, courage is learned when a boy steps up to the plate to face a fireball pitcher. There is a real possibility that the batter may get hit by a pitch. Having to use his courage to overcome fear is the only way a young man can learn this character trait. Eventually, he will get hit by a pitch and the next time he steps to the plate he must use his courage again. We realize a young man will fall short of expectations sometimes. This is normal. This is the whole purpose of the league; to teach and encourage the young man to rise above his failures and learn how to deal with those tough situations.

 

3.0      Character Traits

3.1        The character traits we teach are ones that are needed and used by any and all successful people.  One cannot achieve or attain without the acquisition of these character traits.  They are the key to doing anything for good and for God in this life. The character traits include but are not limited to the following:

3.2        Integrity

Integrity is the act of being honest. On the surface, everyone believes himself to be honest.  But often this integrity has its limits, and for many people it seems to stop at the white lines.  Integrity is not what a player or coach can get away with; it is something that they have or do not have and must live with all of the time. A runner who is called safe when he clearly knows he is out should be able to say to the umpire, “I was out.” Most players could not do this because of the ostracism they would receive from the other players, coaches, and parents. But this is integrity. We are trying to teach this, and the only way for a young man to learn it is to exercise it.

3.3        Initiative

Initiative is the trait that a boy exercises when he does something of his own volition. The game is over and your players ask if they can pick up the bases or carry the gear to the car for you. This trait does not come naturally to a boy, but they will learn it if the coach takes the time to teach it. The coach should never do any work that the boys can do themselves. Children need to learn to work, not be pampered.

3.4        Endurance

Most of the boys are strong enough to make it through a game without getting weary, but most of them have not learned to endure mentally when they are losing the game.  This is called not quitting and it is as much a part of baseball as hitting and catching. A consistently positive coach who never gives up on a player or his team will teach the team never to give up on themselves or each other. It’s never over until its over, unless of course, it is over in our minds long before the last inning. Stay tough and endure to the end.

3.5        Dependability

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. said that the best ability is dependability. The coach must teach his boys to be dependable, to show up on time, to be at every game, and to have the proper uniform. These are things people do when someone is relying on them. The players rely on the coach to be knowledgeable, to be under control, to be organized, and to be fair. A dependable coach will have dependable players.

3.6        Knowledge

Knowledge comes from study. Baseball is a game of rules. It is a game that requires basic skills in hitting, running, fielding, and throwing. There is a right way to do each of these and the coach has the responsibility to learn these ways. The more a coach knows, the better the coach will be. The championship teams have coaches that study the game and teach their players. You must have good players to win, but more than that, your team must have a knowledgeable coach.

3.7        Tact

Tact is the ability to communicate with your players, parents, other coaches, and umpires without giving offense. There is a right way and a wrong way to speak to the umpire. It is always done from the perspective of respect for authority. Tact is the simple act of being kind to your players, calling them by name, saying, please, thank you. A coach is not enlisted because he can browbeat or intimidate his players, just the opposite. We are not involved with the Youth Baseball Leagues to win ball games. Our goal is to do our part to have winning young men.

3.8        Unselfishness

An unselfish coach is one that is willing to give his time for the young men in his care. He gives himself to teach and train his players. In the end, no matter what the score is, he will have been successful. The selfish coach is out for the win, for the trophy, for the bragging right of beating the other guy. The most important person on that field is not the coach; it is the boy who needs his coach. Be there when you are needed.

3.9        Control

The very essence of life is control. We are born sinners and we must learn to control our flesh, our minds, and our spirits. This is the very heartbeat of successful Christian living. We as coaches must learn to master ourselves and control our emotions, our attitude, and our behavior. Everything else the coach does is secondary to this character trait. The end result of a boy who spends the summer in the Youth Baseball Leagues should be a controlled, self-disciplined player. Of course, he can only do this if his coach has led by example.

3.10      Courage

This may not ever be seen by others, but it will certainly be experienced by the player when he steps up to the plate to face a fireball pitcher with little or no ball control; or when there are two outs, it is the bottom of the last inning, and the winning run is at third base, waiting for the hit so he can score.  The coach can prepare his boys for this event and then encourage them, or give them courage, to see themselves through the trial. You cannot muster up courage by thinking about it. You can only experience it. This is one reason why baseball is so good for a boy. It puts him in situations where he has to be courageous. The word encourage means to help make one courageous. The coach should be the greatest cheerleader on the team. Do not let other boys chastise a player for making an out or an error.

3.11      Justice

Justice is the act of fairness. Every boy should get to play some of every game. A coach that doesn’t allow every boy to play in some of the game has the wrong philosophy. The idea is teach the boys, not win ball games. The poor player as well as the good player should be treated fairly. This is why we have a rule that every boy must play at least half the game. We want to teach character to every boy, not win every game.

3.12      Loyalty

Loyalty is exhibited by the coach when he is always behind every player, encouraging him, and never giving up on him.  The team may be down by twenty runs, but the coach always has a pat on the back and a kind word for his players. They may lose every ball game, but the player feels a part of the team. That’s my coach and I am his ballplayer, and that’s that. If I strike out, Coach is going to be disappointed for me, but not at me.

3.13      Teamwork

Teamwork is one of the most rewarding traits that a coach may teach. Everyone on the team feels the team is more important than they are as individuals. Their play is unselfish. This team never argues amongst themselves or against other teams because the togetherness of their team is infinitely more important than fixing blame or just venting their feelings.

3.14      Decisiveness

The players must learn to make split-second decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions (to which base to throw the ball, how hard should it be thrown, etc.) Training on the part of the coach will make those decisions possible. A coach who teaches principles and trains his boys to make decisions based on principles teaches the boys the ability of how to make important decisions.

3.15      Enthusiasm

The coach must like the boys, like what he is doing, and believe in what he is doing. This will generate enthusiasm as he focuses upon his goals. This enthusiasm is contagious.  The coach must be as enthusiastic about a player when he is doing poorly as when he is doing well. He must be excited when he is ahead by ten runs or if he is behind by ten runs. The coach cannot complain about the umpire, the bad call, or the bad break. He should display a “We lost today, but we’ll get them next time, type of attitude.

3.16      Judgment

Every boy must be treated and handled justly; yet, their treatment must be personal. Every boy has different needs and the coach must learn how to address those needs. A good coach needs the wisdom of Solomon to know how to bring out the best in each boy. To a certain extent, this comes from experience and time. But a godly coach who asks God for wisdom can be a tremendous help to his boys, no matter how limited his experience.

3.17      Obedience

The coach must teach his boys to obey. He does this first by being an obedient coach. The umpire is one person to whom the coach should obey and show respect as he does so. This will show everyone concerned that the coach respects and obeys authority. He must obey the rule book. He must teach his boys to do the same.

 

4.0       Personnel

4.1        The Commissioner

The commissioner is the head of our Youth Baseball Leagues. He is chosen by the pastor of the church.  It is the commissioner’s job to manage the league for the pastor. He keeps him informed of everything that goes on in the league and receives the pastor’s approval for any changes.  Every prospective coach is approved by the pastor before the man is ever approached about a coaching position.

4.2        Chief Umpire

The chief umpire is responsible for scheduling umpires and substitutes.  We have eighteen teams playing in as many as twelve games a week. Each game must have a qualified umpire behind the plate.  The chief umpire is also responsible for the umpires’ equipment, their uniforms, and appearance.  He oversees their training as well as their on-the-field performance.  He reports any problems to the commissioner.

4.3        Umpires

Umpires are chosen carefully for their baseball skills, knowledge, maturity, self-control, and leadership abilities. They are recommended by the commissioner, but approved by the pastor. They must attend several training sessions in the spring before the season starts, and must pass a knowledge test.

Umpires are paid for each game they officiate. The umpire supplies his own gray uniform pants. The league supplies him with a dark blue uniform shirt with a league patch on the sleeve. The league also supplies a chest protector, leg guards, face mask, ball bag, plate brush, and ball and strike indicator for his use. His equipment is stored in our snack shop after every game.

4.4        Coaches

Coaches are recommended by the commissioner and approved by the pastor.  Only men of the highest integrity and moral fiber are chosen for this position.  This is a position that will influence young boys for a lifetime. The coaching positions are filled by the best Christians in our church.

Baseball knowledge is important, but not nearly as important as is the character and Christian testimony of the coach.  We do not necessarily fill this important position with men who have great athletic ability.  They must first be the right kind of Christian, and secondly, they must understand the purpose of our Youth Baseball Leagues.

The win-at-all-cost, prima-donna coach that yells and browbeats his players and chews them out for a bad play, knows nothing about kids, youth baseball, or Christian character. He is only interested in winning. Baseball teaches boys how to deal with failure and disappointments. It teaches how to face stress and cope with difficult situations. It is a great microcosm of life that helps to train young men. It is not the personal dynasty of a dictatorial, fanatical coach that will sacrifice his players for a win.

The league does not have officially assigned assistant coaches, although the boys’ fathers act as base coaches during games and sometimes help the coach at practices. If a coach has to be gone during a game, the commissioner will substitute as a coach or will assign an approved Dad as a substitute. All substitutes must be approved before asking the dad to substitute.

 

5.0       Organization

5.1        The First Baptist Church Youth Baseball League is composed of eighteen teams in four different leagues. The leagues are divided by grade levels as follows:

Instructional League                  age 5 through 1st grade

Minor League                           Grades 2 & 3

Major League                           Grades 4 & 5

Jack Hyles League                   Grades 6, 7, & 8

The Instructional League has four teams, the Minor League has three teams, the Major League has three teams, and the Jack Hyles League has four teams.  We try to place twelve players on each team, but some years this is not possible. This allows players of a team to miss a game if necessary, yet their team does not have to forfeit the game because not enough players were there to field the team.

5.2        Instructional League

The Instructional League is for boys who have never played any type of organized baseball. The purpose of the league is to teach basic baseball skills to the boys. They learn the fundamentals of hitting, fielding, running, and throwing. Coaches do all the pitching.  Dads are used as base coaches. Each player comes up to bat each inning, and then the other team has a chance to bat. We record outs and runs. Coaches may stop the play to teach his boys at any time and they may remain on the field during play to teach. However, they may not physically assist a player. Teams play five innings. Bases are at 50 feet.

5.3        Minor League

Minor League teams have their own pitchers; however there is neither leading-off nor stealing of bases.  It is definitely a higher level of baseball than the Instructional League. They have an umpire and he calls a relatively wide strike zone, so as to encourage hitting, rather than waiting for a walk to first base. If the batter receives four balls his coach will pitch to him so he can hit to get on base. Bases are at 55 feet. Minor League games are six innings.

5.4        Major Leagues

Major League play is much more skilled than the previous mentioned levels.  Pitchers are not called for balks, but a base runner may steal a base after the ball has passed the plate. This leads to some very exciting plays at home plate.  Major League games are six innings.  Bases are 65 feet.

5.5        Jack Hyles League

The Jack Hyles League an 80 foot baseball field. It allows sixth, seventh, and eighth and opportunity to experience baseball at a very high level. It is more competitive play because of the closeness of this age group and their skills. They play six innings.

5.6        Scheduling

The schedule is approved by the pastor. We do not have any games on Wednesday evening. If there is a conflict with another ministry, we try our best to make adjustments. At the end of the regular season, we have playoff games for the championship. The teams in each league play in the playoff games. The winners of the playoff games play in the championship. Games cannot be scheduled or rescheduled to accommodate vacations and work schedules.

5.7        League Assignment

If a boy has been held back in school for academic reasons, he is allowed to progress with his class to the proper baseball league. There are always individual problems that must be dealt with. One example is a student who is home-schooled and working at a grade level not commensurate to his age.  Special situations are dealt with by the commissioner, using guidelines established by the pastor.

Once a boy is placed on a team and informed of his team, he may not be moved to another team. We always try to place brothers, in the same league, on the same team unless the parents request otherwise.

5.8        Uniforms

I believe uniforms are very important.  All things being equal, the team which is dressed the best will play the best.  It is important to team pride that a boy feels good about his uniform.

It is the coaches’ duty to collect all uniforms and equipment at the end of the season. To neglect this duty is very serious. Uniform control is very important. Every uniform must be accounted for. Players are not allowed to turn in just any uniform at the end of the season.  They must turn in the one they were assigned. They are not allowed to wear them anywhere except to their games. Any excess damage is billed to the player.

 

6.0    Rules

Baseball is a game of rules. All things being equal, the coach who knows his rules better will win. Umpires are told to enforce all baseball rules exactly as written. It behooves the coaches to know their rule book.

In the event of controversy, the umpire is to be very politely informed of a rule discrepancy.  If the umpire cannot resolve the issue, it is to be brought to the commissioner’s attention or to the chief umpire’s attention immediately. They should be able to resolve the situation immediately.

Do not make a scene on the field of play. Coaches have the right to ask a question about a rule or interpretation of a rule. You do not have the right to question a ball or strike call, or a judgment call of play on the field. The umpire will not tolerate opinions and comments. These questions are against everything we believe about the sanctity of authority. Players will not be allowed to make any comment about an umpire’s call. NONE! The penalty is ejection from the game.

If you are protesting a game, make sure that you know the rules concerning a protest. A protest that does not follow the correct procedure will not be considered.

 

7.0       Team Selection

7.1        General

Once a player has been assigned to a team, he may not go to another team. He must stay on the assigned team for the entire time he is in the current league. Exceptions can be made for very unusual and special circumstances. Request must be made in writing and submitted to the commissioner. There must be a clear-cut, positive benefit to the player for allowing such a change. The boy’s desire or his parent’s desire for him to change is not reason enough.

7.2        Instructional League

Generally, players are assigned based on the location of their home. This is not always possible, however.

7.3        Minor League

Players are assigned to a team based on the location of where they live. If a brother is already on a team, the new player is automatically placed on the same team unless the parents request otherwise.

7.4        Major League and Jack Hyles League

Coaches select their teams by drafting new players. All eligible players’ names are placed on a list. These include new players that have signed up to play or players coming from the Minor League.

The teams are listed in order of the draft. The last-placed team from the previous season will select first and the first-placed team will select last. Players are selected one at a time until all of the team rosters have been filled.

If a coach has a player returning whose brother is in the draft, that coach must select the brother as his second round draft pick. If a coach has a son in the draft, the coach must choose the son on the second or third round if the above rule applies.

7.5        Expansion Teams

Expansion teams will be considered the last place team for the draft and the true last place team will be considered second to the last, and so on.

7.6        Sample Draft

 Teams in order of draft Number  of returning players Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Rd 8 Rd 9 Rd 10
Team A 7 A-8 1-9 1-10 1-11 1-12
Team B 10 B-11 2-12
Team C 9 C-10 2-11 3-12
Team D 6 D-7 1-8 2-9 2-10 3-11 4-12
Team E 10 E-11 5-12
Team F 7 F-8 3-9 3-10 4-11 6-12
Team G 10 G-11 7-12

 

8.0       Uniforms and Equipment

Uniforms remain the property of the First Baptist Church of Hammond Youth Baseball Leagues. Uniforms that are abused or worn excessively must be replaced by the player.  We purchase very high quality uniforms and expect the players to wash them properly. Coaches must see to it that players wear clean uniforms. A player who has a dirty uniform should not be allowed to play.

The player may keep his hat at the end of the season.

He must wear his uniform properly at all times. He may not wear any additional items on his uniform such as headbands. Players may wear one wrist band. Hats must be worn properly at all times.

Uniforms must be turned in at the end of the season. Coaches should collect all uniforms from their players.

Equipment must be taken care of and accounted for at all times. Coaches are asked to turn their equipment at the end of the last game of the season. They should keep the commissioner informed of any defective equipment.

Base coaches must wear a solid color shirt that is the same color as the team uniform or, if they own one, a denim coaches’ shirt. There are no exceptions to this rule. Pants must be clean and unstained.

 

9.0       Conduct

Coaches should be under control at all times. Your testimony is too important to lose your temper over a ball game. If the coach cannot control his temper at all times, then he should step down and let someone else who is in control take the team. Uncontrolled behavior hurts the coach, the players, and our church by displaying an un-Christlike behavior.

The coach must control and teach his own players to be under control at all times. Baseball can be an emotional sport. Part of the teaching and training of our program is to teach young men how to control themselves in tough situations. Expect some failures, but plan for very few.

Coaches are responsible for the conduct of fans at the ball game. An umpire has the right to suspend or call a game if fans become abusive.

Dress codes will be enforced at all times. Please inform the boys and the parents of this.  We do not allow immodest clothing on males or females. No shorts may be worn by men, women, or children. If a child can walk, he may not wear shorts. If you see a problem, send for the commissioner right away. If a situation cannot be rectified, the game will be stopped until the offender leaves the premises.

Make sure that the boys on your team have decent haircuts at all times. Umpires are authorized to enforce hair standards on the ballplayers and coaches.

 

10.0    Practice

Coaches are encouraged to have regularly scheduled practices. Start on time and end on time. The coach should be at the practices first and be the last to leave. The practice should be organized with a plan. Never go to a practice unless you have written down everything you are going to do for the time allotted.

Practices cannot be made mandatory for Major League and below. The players simply do not have control over their own schedules.

Uniforms should not be worn to practice. Players must meet dress code at all times. Avoid horseplay and foolishness. We are here to teach discipline, not create a fool=s empire of play. Practice time is every bit as important as game time, perhaps even more important!

No practices may be scheduled during the times of teenage soul winning or any youth activity. It is often a good time to schedule practice after teenage soul winning on Saturday.  The boys get back in the early afternoon, and can be met right after their soul-winning time. Fields are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Always have adequate water for your players. There is an outside spigot at the Little League snack shop. Be alert for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

 

11.0    Emergencies

The commissioner or one of his representatives will be at every game. If you have an emergency, come quickly to the snack shop. There is a first-aid kit located there. If there is a life and death emergency, call 911 before sending for the commissioner. Do not ever be embarrassed about dialing 911 in an emergency. It is better to be safe than sorry.

We have a defibrillator located in the snack shop. If a player gets hit in the chest and drops to the ground, he may be suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. The child must have the defibrillator applied within five minutes.

Be aware that heat exhaustion and heat stroke are a real problem that can have deadly effects. The best prevention to keep either one of these from occurring is to make sure the players drink plenty of water.

You can tell if a player is suffering from heat exhaustion because he will have a cold, sweaty forehead. He may have a headache and feel dizzy. He may vomit or feel nauseous. The treatment is to drink more water and rest a while. Heat stroke is a much more serious problem. It could result in brain damage and death. The victim will have a hot, dry forehead because he as sweated out all available water. He may faint. Treat him as you would for shock, and his body temperature must be brought down to save his life. Pour cold water on him from a hose, submerge him in the pond, or put ice on his body as quickly as possible.  Do whatever you can to lower his body temperature. Call 911 as soon as possible. Do not force water into his mouth.

Always notify the commissioner of any emergencies.