As more and more people participate in baseball, their love and affection for it grows. The sport delivers thrill, fun, and excitement both to its audience and players.
Today, over 100 countries have joined the International Baseball Federation and take part in the World Series held annually.
The game first originated in the United States, and although it is popular worldwide, there are thousands of teams and leagues within the US itself.
Popular baseball leagues based in the US include All-League Baseball, American League Baseball, Little League Baseball, Perfect Game, Pony Baseball, and many more.
In any case, today we will be discussing the baseball game rules that are followed in the popular baseball youth league, Pony Baseball.
2023 Pony League Bat and Pitching Rules: New Changes to Promote Player Safety and Fair Play
The updated Pony League Bat Rules & Pitching Rules for 2023 include a maximum bat size of 2 5/8 inches in diameter, limitations on a pitch count and rest periods, and a new balk rule. These changes aim to improve player safety and promote fair play.
- Bat Size and Weight: The maximum allowable bat size for Pony League Baseball is now 2 5/8 inches in diameter. The length of the bat can be no longer than 36 inches, and the weight of the bat must be no more than 31 ounces.
- Bat Material: Bats must be made of wood, composite materials, or aluminum. However, aluminum bats must be BPF 1.15 certified.
- Bat Drop: The bat drop cannot be more than -3. This means that a bat that is 30 inches long must weigh no more than 27 ounces.
- Pitch Count: Pitchers aged 12 and under will be limited to 75 pitches per day, while pitchers aged 13 and 14 will be limited to 90 pitches per day.
- Rest Periods: Pitchers aged 12 and under must rest for a minimum of three days if they pitch more than 41 pitches in a game, and pitchers aged 13 and 14 must rest for a minimum of four days if they pitch more than 61 pitches in a game.
- Balks: Pitchers will be called for a balk if they make any movement that simulates a pitch while not actually delivering the ball.
Quick Info about Pony League Baseball
The Pony League is a non-profit organization that was first established in the year 1951 in Washington, Pennsylvania, and with it began the Pony Baseball League.
At first, PONY stood for “Protect Our Neighborhood Youth”, but the acronym was later changed to “Protect Our Nation’s Youth”.
In the first year, only six teams were part of the league. However, the news about Pony League spread so fast, mainly by word of mouth, that by 1952, 505 teams with 106 leagues joined the organization.
The same year, the first Pony League World Series was held, and San Antonio, Texas took the cup home.
As of now, Pony League hosts over 500,000 players annually playing in over 4,000 leagues throughout the United States and in more than 40 countries worldwide.
The popular Pony League World Series is now held annually in August at Washington’s Lew Hays Pony Field.
Pony League is also known as a transition league for 13 and 14-year players who graduate from Little League to play in a regulation-size diamond.
In any case, the membership is open to both children and young adults from ages 4 to 23 years, and the leagues are organized in two-year age brackets.
Pony Baseball Rules for 2023
The hitter must follow the bat rules that are provided in the 2020 Pony Baseball Rulebook before deciding on which bat is to be used to play in the game. These rules are explained in detail below.
BAT REGULATIONS – A hitter is allowed to use any bat made of wood, metal, graphite, or ceramic, which are manufactured for playing baseball. The bat must be round and not more than 2 5/8 inches in diameter at the thickest part and no more than 42 inches in length.
Bats having dents, cracks, modified features, or an irregular shape are strictly prohibited. The knob of the bat can be solid or hollowed to place an embedded metric sensor if in case it is being used. However, the sensor shall
- Not affect the performance of the bat
- Be secured by a proper locking mechanism along with a backup mechanism to secure it in its place
- Have an offline mode so that the data is not accessed during the game
RULE 1 – The bats which are manufactured specifically for playing tee ball, should not be used when the ball is being pitched by a player, coach, or even a pitching machine, unless and until the ball to be used is a safety ball. Coach pitch bats are to be only used during coach pitching using a safety ball.
The penalty in the above case will be the removal of the bat only. Also, if the player is using a tee ball bat that is manufactured before the year 2020, then the bat must have a USA Baseball mark along with the following text, “Only For Use With Approved Tee Ball Bat”.
If the player already owns a tee ball bat and wished to continue using it, then the player must purchase a USA Bat sticker directly from USABB and should place it appropriately on the bat.
RULE 2 – In collaboration with USA Baseball and other participating national member organizations, the new USA Baseball bat standard (USABAT) has been adopted by PONY Baseball and is effective from January 1, 2020.
Moreover, except for the -3 bat, which is BBCOR certified, all other bats with 2- 5/8 inch minus factor bats, such as -5, -7, -9, etc., and 2-1/4 inch bats are required to be certified with the USABAT licensing stamp on the bat to be eligible to be used in leagues and tournament games.
2-1/4 inch BARREL bats are allowed in all divisions of PONY Baseball except in COLT 16UTM, PALOMINO 18UTM, and THOROBRED 23UTM. 2-1/4 inch and 2-5/8 inch minus factor bats, like -5, -7, -9, etc., which were used in 2020 are not permitted to be used from the year 2020.
RULE 3 – 2-5/8 inch barrel bats are also permitted to be used in all divisions of Pony Baseball. However, if a 2-5/8 inch bat is -3, it must be BBCOR certified and must have a stamp placed on the bat. Also, from January 1, 2020, all other minus factor bats like -5, -6, -7, -9, etc. must be certified by USABAT and must have a licensing mark placed on the bat.
RULE 4 – All 2-3/4 barrel bats are strictly prohibited in all divisions of Pony Baseball
RULE 5 – COLT 16UTM and PALOMINO 18UTM are permitted to only use bats that are 2-5/8 inches -3 BBCOR certified.
RULE 6 – THOROUGHBRED 23UTM League is allowed to use wooden bats only as specified by Major League Baseball.
Pony League Pitching Rules for 2023
The pitching rules as per the 2020 Pony League Rulebook are explained in detail below.
RULE 1 – Any member of the team is allowed to pitch, but is subjected to the restricted number of pitch counts as recommended by the Pitch Smart Guidelines for the given age classification.
RULE 2 – The pitching options for SHETLAND 6UTM and PINTO 8UTM are given below
- To be used with a batting tee
- The ball should be hit off of a batting tee that is placed on the home plate. In this case, the umpire is responsible for any removal before any play that occurs at home plate
- The hitter should not take a swing at the ball until and unless the pitcher has made a complete pitching motion from the pitcher’s plate
- The pitcher should remain in contact with the pitcher’s plate until the point where the batter hits the ball. Unable to do so will call for a penalty, where a balk is called.
- For use with a pitching machine
- The pitching machine should be placed approximately 38 feet away from the home plate, except in Mustang 10UTM in which the pitching machine is placed 46 feet away from the home plate.
- The pitcher should always take a position at the rear of the pitching machine, and on the left or right side with one foot placed firmly on the dirt portion of the mound.
- If in case a batted ball hits the pitching machine and remains in fair territory, then the ball is considered still in play.
- If in case, a batted ball hits the pitching machine and goes into foul territory, then the ball is considered dead and the batter is allowed to move to the first base, and all the runners advance one base.
- The coach responsible for operating the pitching machine in the league should not direct or coach the offense in any way. Not doing so will call for a penalty, where the coach will be given a first warning, and the second time the coach is removed.
- For use with coach-pitchers
- Coaches or managers pitching the ball should pitch from a pitching plate placed 38 feet away from the home plate, except in MUSTANG 10UTM, in which the coach pitches from a pitching plate placed 46 feet away from the home plate.
- The player who is fielding at the pitcher’s position should always take a position rear to the pitching plate and on the left or right side of the coach pitcher with one foot firmly placed on the dirt portion of the mound.
- Coach-Pitcher must remain in contact with the pitching rubber while pitching and he or she must throw the ball in an overhand manner. In any case, kneeling or pitching from the knee is strictly prohibited.
- The coach-pitcher should never direct or coach their team during offense in any way. Not doing so will call for a penalty, where the coach will be given the first warning, and the second time the coach is removed.
RULE 3 – SHETLAND 6UTM players are not allowed to pitch
RULE 4 – PINTO 8UTM, MUSTANG 10UTM, BRONCO 12UTM, PONY 14UTM, COLT 16UTM, PALOMINO 18UTM, and THOROBRED 23UTM must follow the Pitch Smart chart.
RULE 5 – When a player is pitching in more than one game on a single day, then the pitchers can pitch any combination of pitches in those games, provided that they do not cross the limit of a maximum number of pitches for that particular day.
RULE 6 – Those pitchers who are reaching the limit of a maximum number of pitchers per day while pitching to a batter are allowed to finish the pitching to that particular batter before they are finally removed.
RULE 7 – After the umpire-in-chief signals for “play” to the pitcher, then that pitcher should be considered the pitcher of record, and the pitch count too should begin at that point.
RULE 8 – When a pitcher is charged with a specific number of pitches on a particular calendar day on which the pitcher is pitched, rest is calculated accordingly, regardless of whether they are local organization league games, the playoff of postponed games or suspended games, tie games, or exhibition games. Rest is always calculated per day.
RULE 9 – Any pitcher who has been withdrawn from the mound and/or lineup, or any pitcher who has been withdrawn from the mound and stays in the game at another position, is not allowed to pitch again in that same game.
RULE 10 – If a relief pitcher is appointed and he or she comes in “cold”, the umpire shall allow that pitcher to properly warm up with at least allowing 10 warm-up pitches
RULE 11 – Those pitchers who violate any of the pitching rules are considered ineligible players, and are subjected to penalties mentioned in Rule 18 of the Penalties section given in the 2020 Pony Baseball Rulebook.
RULE 12 – If a pitcher named in the batting order is turned in prior to the start of the game or any substitute pitcher, should pitch to the first batter or any substitute batter till that batter is put out or reaches the first base. The exception in this case includes
If the pitcher sustains an injury or other illness due to which the umpire-in-chief declares that the pitcher can no longer pitch
RULE 13 – The pitchers can bring their pitching hand in contact with their mouth or lips while standing in the pitching circle as long as they wipe off their hands and fingers prior to making the contact with the pitching rubber. If in case this rule is violated, the umpire will immediately call a ball.
RULE 14 – The league must assign an official scorekeeper for each game that is held to track the number of pitch counts. If an official scorekeeper is absent, the home team book shall be given the responsibility of keeping the official record of the statistics of the games held, including the number of pitch counts.
For this purpose, the Pony League recommends the use of an electronic game scoring system.
All rules mentioned above must be strictly followed by each pitcher and hitter. Violating any of the above-mentioned rules can call for a penalty and the action is taken accordingly.
Also, the pitchers must observe the rest required according to the pitch count and age, and it is the responsibility of the team coach to ensure that the pitchers observe the total rest.