Youth Sports

Baseball officials hope changes are a homerun


Children in the Valley Stream Baseball League will be playing ball like they’ve never played before.

The league, which will be entering its 71st season, will debut wooden bat baseball for the 2013 season. Children in the upper divisions will hit just like their idols in the professional leagues.

VSBL President Bob Inzerillo and Treasurer Richard Graves say the change will be implemented in the David Wright Division for players 10 and under, the Derek Jeter Division for players 12 and under, and the Firemen’s Division for ages 13-15. Most likely, they say, kids in the Rookie Division will stick with aluminum bats.

“Training with a wood bat is the best possible hitting training you can get,” Inzerillo said. “It’s the right way to play baseball.”

Inzerillo said he has been considering this change since 2008 when he took over leadership of Valley Stream’s oldest youth baseball organization. He said switching to wooden bats has been a trend for the past 15 years as many wood bat tournaments have popped up.

He said there are many benefits to wooden bat baseball, the most important of which is reducing injuries. A pitcher, who stands about 45 feet away from the batter, is less likely to get seriously hurt by a line drive off a wooden bat than off an aluminum bat.

Additionally, Inzerillo said he expects that games will be more evenly matched with all children using wooden bats. The use of aluminum bats, he explained, can lead to more lopsided scores.

Graves said that the league has three main goals — safety, learning and fun. The switch to wooden bats will accomplish all three, he explained.

The league will have to invest in some new equipment, but Graves said the cost will be minimal. Each team will likely be provided with three bats, but he expects most players will go out and purchase their own bats.

The cost to parents will be $35 to $40 per bat, Graves explained, while a good aluminum bat can cost up to $300. The league has formed a partnership with Beaver Bats in Oceanside. Players will be able to get custom bats in the size they desire. They can also have their name engraved on the bat and get it in their team’s colors.

That’s not the only new relationship the league has formed. Next year it will offer price discounts for players who take part in both the Baseball League and the Valbrook summer baseball camp.

Inzerillo said a player who participates in both will get a combined discount of close to $100. Valbrook camps begin shortly after the Baseball League’s playoffs end, so children will be able to keep their skills sharp throughout the summer.

Graves said that the partnership will benefit the league. Players will get to learn from Valbrook’s experienced staff, which includes high schools coaches and college baseball players.

In these tough economic times, Graves said the deal is a good way to help people save money while actually giving a better experience. “The more exposure we can give people to baseball,” he said, “the better players they’re going to be.”

Inzerillo said he is excited for April when the season begins and all these changes begin to take effect. “We’re going to be a better league,” he said.