Little League sign-ups Jan. 11-12

WESTFIELD – Routine fly balls and doubles in the gap are not in the air (not yet), but baseball and change both are. Welcome to January in Westfield, when the Little League baseball season officially kicks off with sign-ups Jan. 11 and 12. And this year, Westfield Little League (WLL) is opening its 64th season by making a few significant changes.
Westfield Little League baseball and softball sign-ups will be held on Friday, Jan. 11 (6-8 p.m.) and Saturday, Jan. 12 (10 a.m.-noon) at the South Middle School at 30 West Silver Street. Parents can also register online at
“We’ve been around a long, long time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change things up,” said John Wheeler, president of WLL. “We wanted to make the changes in order to make Little League better for all those involved — for the players, the coaches and our fans.”
The biggest change is the new mix of ages for baseball’s Instructional, A Division and Majors divisions (no similar changes are being made to the softball divisions). In the past, baseball’s Instructional division has been for kids ages 8 and 9. Last year, the division added 7-year-olds. For the 2013 season, Instructional baseball will be for the training and development of ballplayers ages 7 and 8. Nine-year-olds will now be eligible for A Division baseball, giving them an extra year of development above Instructional.
“The 9-year-olds, for the most part, were too old and too talented for another year of Instructional baseball,” said Wheeler.
Although kids 10-12-years-old are eligible to play Majors baseball (if drafted by a Majors team following March try-outs), most 9s and 10s are at the talent level befitting A Division baseball, according to Wheeler. This new change gives a 9-year-old the opportunity to play alongside and learn from kids who are 9-, 10- and 11-years old.
“This is a big change for Westfield Little League,” said Wheeler, who has been around WLL as a player, coach and administrator for 40 years. “Bringing in kids at a younger age and allowing the 9-year-olds to develop earlier at a high level of play, all that is good news for Westfield baseball.”
A second change is being made because of the loss of Cross Street Field No. 2. The field — dugouts, fences, home plate and all — was plowed under last summer soon after the end of the Little League season to prepare the site for the new school at Cross and Ashley streets. With a giant mound of infield and outfield dirt now sitting where third base had been, a new location is needed for the practices and mostly Instructional games that had been played at the field.
“We will be creative with the scheduling of the one field at Cross Street and the two at Papermill,” said Mike Raposo, vice president, WLL South, “but we’re also looking at other possible locations around the city.”
Notes: As required by Little League, all those registering to play for the 2013 season need to bring an original birth certificate along with a proof of residency when registering. Fees for the 2013 season are as follows: baseball and softball Instructional, $95; baseball A Division and Majors (and all other levels for softball), $120; and Senior League baseball, $145. All registration fees include $30 for pre-paid Opening Day raffle tickets. One additional change this year will be the raffle prizes up for grabs, which will include an iPad, a 4-box-seat Red Sox ticket package, a $200 Visa gift card and a $100 Olympia Sports gift card. And, parents will be able to reclaim the raffle ticket fee by selling their allotted tickets. For more information, visit

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