Updated Friday October 7, 2016 by El Cerrito Youth Baseball.

1. What are some of the differences between ECYB and Little League Baseball?

ECYB follows the rules for PONY Baseball, as supplemented by ECYB rules. In PONY Baseball, players are generally placed on teams according to age. The typical age range for each division in ECYB is as follows:

  • Shetland: 5-6 years
  • Pinto: 7-8 years
  • Mustang: 9-10 years
  • Bronco: 11-12 years
  • Pony: 13-14 years

In Little League baseball, players are normally placed on teams according to age and skill level in a broader way than ECYB.  PONY baseball is organized by age groups.

Another difference is the size of fields used at given age levels.  ECYB believes that PONY field dimensions, including the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate, are better suited to the physical development of children as they go.  In most Little League play, players 12 and under play on our Mustang-sized field with Mustang rules.

Pony Field Sizes:

  • Shetland: 50’ base paths (hitting off batting tees and/or coach pitch)
  • Pinto: 50’ base paths (pitching machine)
  • Mustang: 60’ base paths (46 foot pitching mound)
  • Bronco: 70’ base paths (50 foot pitching mound)
  • Pony: 90’ base paths (54 foot pitching mound)
  • Colt: 90’ base paths (60 foot pitching mound)

2.  May players play up or down a division?

Players are automatically placed on teams in their typical age divisions (e.g., 9 and 10 year olds in Mustang). Almost all players are best served in their baseball and social development by playing baseball with their age cohort in their typical age division. Occasionally, a player's interests would be far better served either by staying and playing a third year at a division level, or by moving up to a higher division one year early.  This is referred to as "playing up" or "playing down" one year. 

ECYB now allows some flexibility for players to play up or down one year to try to accommodate the specific needs an individual player may have.  Sometimes, but not always, ECYB will approve such requests after considering the needs of the player and the needs of the league. Such requests are not encouraged or typical, but an ECYB family may decide it is in their player's best interests to request to play up or play down one year, in order to address unusual circumstances, such as significant disparities in skill, physical development, and/or maturity. 

A decision to play up or play down can adversely affect a player's ability to be selected for an ECYB Select Team/ All-star team.  For example, a player that plays down one year will likely not qualify under the age restrictions for that division's Select Teams, and as a practical matter, is unlikely to be considered for selection on the higher division Select Team for which that player does qualify by age.

Requests based purely on social considerations, such as simply to play with friends, will not be granted.  fThe final decision on each request will be made at the discretion of ECYB.

If special consideration is requested to play up or play down one year, the player must attend an evaluation day for both their typical age division and desired division.

2. What do the registration fees pay for?

ECYB is a volunteer run organization.   With only a few exceptions for special need services, ECYB runs exclusively on volunteer labor hours.  This allows our registration fees to remain low and affordable.  Our registration fees are used to pay for the teams’ equipment (baseballs, catcher’s equipment, etc.), field use fees, field maintenance and improvement, umpires, professional instruction fees, league insurance,  Positive Coaching Alliance membership and training, and league administration (mailings, website development, etc.).

3. Is there financial assistance available if I am unable to pay the registration fee?

Families unable to pay full registration may request Reduced Fees (typically 50% of the regular Registration Fee) by submitting a request in writing to the league president.  These applications will can only be granted to the extent that funds are available, including especially donations by other ECYB families made at time of registration specifically for financial aid purposes.

Applicants for reduced fees should pay the Parent Participation/Uniform Deposit and 50% of the regular player registration fee for full consideration.  Requests submitted after the registration deadline may not be considered.  Applicants will be notified of the status of their request before teams are drafted.  Applicants will therefore have an opportunity to withdraw with refund if the league is unable to grant the request.

4. Can I get a refund if my player decides not to play?

A full refund, less $25 cancellation fee, will be given to players who withdraw before the draft process begins, that is, before midnight of the last day of evaluations.  

No refunds will be given for any reason if the player chooses to withdraw after being drafted to a team.

5. Why am I being asked to volunteer and what is the parent participation/uniform deposit?

ECYB is run and organized by volunteers.  To encourage families to take on their fair share of work, ECYB collects a parent participation/uniform deposit of $100 per family as part of the registration process.  Each player family is asked to work a minimum of ten (10) hours to support ECYB league and individual team level activities.  (*Shetland-only families only need to complete a total of five [5] hours)  If these minimum requirements are met, and any league-issued uniforms are returned (not applicable to Shetland and Pinto uniforms), the deposit will be refunded.

Parents may receive credit for league hours for activities such as the following:

  • working on a Board of Directors committee or task force (e.g., Opening Day committee)
  • serving as an official coach or manager (as distinguished from helping out)
  • helping with league administrative duties (e.g., checking equipment before the season begins)
  • serving in a league administrative role (e.g., field maintenance manager)

Parents/guardians are required to contribute volunteer hours to support their teams.  Parents are asked to complete five team hours for each child.  Team support activities for which team hours may be earned include:

  • preparing the field prior to games as assigned (e.g. chalking foul lines)
  • serving as the team Business Manager
  • filling another team position such as party or trophy coordinator

Families are encouraged to complete their league volunteer hours early in the season, when there are more volunteer opportunities and options available.  It may become very difficult to complete the volunteer hours requirement, if you start too late in the season.

Parents may opt out of the league hour requirement by paying an additional $100.  Families that opt out of the league hour requirement are still asked to volunteer at least five hours to support their player’s team(s).

More information about volunteer opportunities and the applicable rules is available in the “Volunteers” section of this website.

6. How are players assigned to teams?

It is the intent of the ECYB to form the most balanced teams reasonably possible within each age division.  This allows the most fair competition and highest level of learning for all players within the division.  Teams normally consist of 11-14 players, organized into leagues by age.

Players are assigned to teams in a two step process, (1) Player Evaluations and (2) a Player Draft.  Player Evaluations (PE) are held in January. All first time ECYB registrants and players changing leagues (e.g. moving up from Pinto to Mustang) must attend PE.  Returning players may also be required to attend PE if the applicable division is reconstructing teams.  At PE, players are observed and rated on their baseball skills.  Players are each given a turn fielding ground balls and fly balls, making throws, and batting.  Coaches, managers, and league officials evaluate each player on their skill levels.  Teams are drafted following completion of Player Evaluations.  During the draft, managers will select players for their teams in a cyclical system somewhat like professional teams draft players from college.  After the draft is held and team rosters are finalized, each manager will contact the players selected to play for his/her team and will let them know about practices, uniforms, etc.

7. Is it possible for my child to not be placed on a team?

The number of teams in each league is determined by the availability of field space and approved team managers.  In the event that we have more players than teams, the following priorities in registration will be followed to place players who are registered and who have participated in PE on teams:

  • El Cerrito residents
  • Returning players who are non-residents
  • Siblings of returning non-residents
  • First time non-resident ECYB registrants

Players not initially placed on a team, and late registrants, will be put into a ‘player pool’ and will be placed on teams as openings arise. Players not placed on a team will be entitled to a full refund.

8. Can my child be placed on a team with her or his friends?

No, except in the Shetland Division.  It is our intent and hope that players will develop friendships, team spirit, and sportsmanship with the teammates on the team to which they are assigned.  ECYB does not accept parent requests for specific team assignments, except in the Shetland Division.  Buddy requests are allowed in Shetland to the extent reasonably possible.

9. Can my child switch teams after the draft?

No. As an ECYB registrant, the player and parents or guardians agree to play for whichever team the player is assigned.

10. How often do teams practice and play games?

Most teams in Pinto and higher practice two or three times a week beginning in early February (after completion of Player Evaluations and the Draft) until the season begins. Once game play begins, practices are usually reduced to twice a week. The practice schedule is determined by availability of fields and the team’s manager and coaches.

The season usually begins with the Opening Day parade and ceremonies on the first Saturday in March.  All teams march in the parade wearing their uniforms.  Games begin that weekend and continue through the spring with most league games taking place on Saturdays and Sundays. Older players, in the Bronco and Pony leagues, may also play weekday games in the evenings. The baseball season ends in June with division playoffs.  Players on select and all-star teams have an opportunity to play at a higher competitive level through summer and possibly into fall.

11. Who are the coaches and managers?

Most of the coaches and managers are parents or family members of ECYB players. Like all leadership in ECYB, they are volunteers and are coaching and managing due to their interest in working with kids and baseball. There is an application and interview process for managers and coaches conducted by members of the Board of Directors. Managers and coaches are also subject to a background check.  This selection process takes place in November-December for the following season. Once selected, coaches and managers are required to participate in coaching clinics organized by ECYB. Clinics are held on how to run practices, how to teach hitting and pitching, and how to coach. Coaches and managers can always use extra help at practices from parents of players on their team. Baseball knowledge and skills is helpful but enthusiasm and a desire to help out are more important.

12. Where are practices held and games played?

ECYB uses a number of fields for practices and games in El Cerrito and neighboring communities. Practices are held on all the fields listed below. In addition, managers may schedule practices for alternate sites based on field availability and weather conditions (e.g. blacktop practices when fields are too muddy). Games are played on the following fields for each league:

  • Pinto: Tassajara Park (one field) and Cerrito Vista Park (three fields)
  • Mustang: Central Park and Harding School
  • Bronco: Castro Park and Canyon Trail
  • Pony: Cerrito Vista Park (regulation field) and El Cerrito High School baseball field are home fields. Players in Pony may travel for interleague games against teams from Albany, Pinole, Piedmont, Richmond, San Anselmo, San Pablo, or Tara Hills.

13. Who umpires the games?

Umpires for ECYB games are normally selected from a group of trained current or former ECYB players.  Youth umpires meet approximately once a week beginning in January to be trained for their game duties. ECYB is unique in its use of youth umpires. We feel that developing children as umpires is equally important as developing players. ECYB maintains a ‘zero tolerance’ policy regarding abusive or inappropriate conduct toward umpires by players, managers, coaches, and spectators.

14. Where can I find a copy of the ECYB Baseball rules?

You can see and print a copy of the ECYB rules in the “ECYB Rules” area of this website.

15. If I have a concern or question about ECYB, whom may I contact?

For all general inquiries, please contact the league via this web site by sending an email to the ECYB webmaster, who will direct your question to the board of directors or other appropriate league volunteer.  You may also send snail mail to the ECYB Board of Directors and league officials at:

ECYB PO BOX 194, El Cerrito CA 94530

Email addresses for league volunteers are available on the website.