Why should I choose Pony Baseball/Softball for my child?
Read below to find out!
The differences between PONY and Little League baseball
The primary features that distinguish PONY baseball from Little League baseball are the use of a two-year age bracket system and scaled diamonds. In organizations such as Little League, players can differ by as much as three years within a division. As a result, the younger players, because of their lack of maturity, ability, and size find it hard to communicate with the older players. Generally they find themselves spending a disproportionate amount of time on the bench and may feel disconnected from their team. With players of only two ages involved, as is the case with PONY baseball, it is far easier to permit player to play more positions since the difference in skills within the age group is not that great. The game of baseball cannot be played as it was intended if the physical capability of the players does not match the physical achievements required for the game. Little League uses two diamond sizes. Up until age 12, players play on a 60-foot diamond. PONY baseball, on the other hand, scales the size of the diamond to match the physical capabilities of the players within each division. The dimensions for PONY baseball are:
50-foot bases for Shetland (5-6 year olds)
60-foot bases for Pinto (7-8 year olds)
60-foot bases for Mustang (9-10 year olds)
70-foot bases for Bronco (11-12 year olds)
80-foot bases for Pony (13-14 year olds)
90-foot bases for Colt (15-16 year olds)
Base dimensions for Fast Pitch will be appropriate for the players' ages, as above.These base dimensions are the result of extensive experimentation to determine the size on which players of each age group can properly play the game of baseball. Pitching distance is also scaled to the ability of the player in proportion to the size of the diamond. The scaled down diamonds allow the players to make the plays made by the major leaguers. Home runs become a possibility. Outfielders can play in a position proportionately equal to that played by a major leaguer. Runners can lead off and steal. Pitchers have to learn how to hold runners on base. The double play, squeeze play, and various strategy tactics, difficult for adults and nearly impossible for youngsters on a full size diamond, become a probability rather than an impossibility.
PONY Baseball and Softball began with the organization of the Pony League in Washington, PA in the summer of 1951. This was a transition league for 13- and 14-year-old players designed for the graduates of Little League baseball. Growth of Pony League, primarily by word of mouth, was rapid, and by the end of the second season, 1952, the original six teams in Washington were joined by 505 others in 106 leagues across the country. A national tournament was conducted, and the first Pony League World Series was held that year. Lew Hays, among the founders of the original Pony League, was named Commissioner of the new league when it was incorporated for national organization in early 1953 and held that post until 1964 when he became president.
In 1953, John Laslo, long time mayor of Martin's Ferry, Ohio, visited with Hays and discussed organization of a league similar to Pony League for 15- and 16-year-old players. The purpose was to permit players in this age bracket to compete with players of like experience in their first years on the regulation diamond. Laslo guided the development of Colt League, and in late 1959, Pony League and Colt League were merged into a single organization called Pony Baseball.
Bronco League, for 11- and 12-year-old players, was organized in 1961 to permit players of this age to play the complete game of baseball. With Colt League using the regulation diamond with 90 foot base paths, Pony League uses a diamond with 80 foot base paths as a transition between the regulation diamond and the 70 foot diamond used in Bronco League.
In 1970 the Mustang League was developed in Fort Worth, TX using a diamond with 60 foot base paths, to provide an organizational structure for leagues for beginning players, 9- and 10- year-olds. For communities using players of 7 and 8 years of age, rules and emblems were developed for Pinto League, a very elementary form of baseball. Thoroughbred League was organized in the Tampa, FL area and became a part of PONY Baseball in 1973 to provide playing opportunity for those players from 17 through 20 years of age who have not entered professional play and who retain a desire to participate in a community baseball program. In 1977, Thoroughbred League age limits were expanded to include 21-year-old players, and Palomino League was organized for players 17 and 18. The Thoroughbred League was discontinued as PONY program in 1984.
Shetland League, an instructional program for 5- and 6-year- olds, was formally adopted by PONY for the 1990 season with rules based on the experiences of a number of league organizations that had conducted play in this age group for several years. While girls are permitted to play in any of the PONY Baseball leagues, recognizing that most girls preferred to compete in leagues with other girls, PONY Baseball provided Softball for Girls leagues in 1976. The Colt League may consist of players 15 and 16, and a Pony League used for those 13 and 14. Both Pony and Colt softball leagues use a regulation softball diamond with 60 foot base paths in fast pitch. In like manner, if there are enough players, the Bronco League may be limited to players of 11 and 12 years of age and Mustang League used for those 10-and-under. These leagues for younger girls use a softball diamond with a 50 foot base path. Older girls, 17 through 19, play in the Palomino League on the 65 foot diamond in slow pitch. Nearly 500,000 players participate in the PONY organization annually.
THE NAME PONY Baseball, Inc. is the corporate name under which Shetland League, Pinto League, Mustang League, Bronco League, Pony League, Colt League and Palomino League are operated in baseball and softball. PONY is taken from the first letters of each word in the slogan,"Protect Our Nation's Youth." Originally suggested by boys at the Y.M.C.A. in Washington, PA the slogan was "Protect Our Neighborhood Youth," and the change to "Nation's" youth was made after the original Washington Pony League developed into an international program.