Travel Program

2016 Travel Program

Here are the things you need to know about tryout registration and the 2016 travel program:

This registration process is for the tryout registration for age groups 7U through 12U only. The registration process for the Middle School program will be communicated separately. 

There is no cost for travel tryouts (7U - 12U) in 2015.  However all ballplayer(s) must be registered and paid for the house league, and also registered for the 2016 Travel Tryouts to be eligible to try out.  This will be checked and enforced, no exceptions. Any expenses to cover the tryout facilities will be baked into the actual travel team dues.

House league is a requirement of players in all Babe Ruth sanctioned baseball leagues.  To be eligible to play in the travel program, a ballplayer must play in at least 60% of their house league games.  

In 2015, spring and summer travel programs were be combined into the single tryout, and a team selection process that will occur once for both seasons.  The expectation is that selected ballplayers will be attending winter workouts with their team, and playing both spring and summer seasons.  Anyone with intentions to skip any of those must declare such upon registering for tryouts.  In addition, those part-timers must attend these December tryouts even if they only plan to play in the summer, and in order to be eligible to be rostered for the summer. We will mirror this process in 2016.

Remember in 2015 SPFBL made the switch to age-based travel eligibility.

There is grandfathering permitted in 2016, only for those players who played travel baseball with SPFBL in 2014 and are currently in grade 3 or higher.  NOTE: If you are eligible and choose to take advantage of the grandfathering to continue playing with your grade, that decision is considered declared and final as of the tryout date.  This means the player will be considered the age group they declare for the entire 2016 travel season. 

Exception to grandfathering rule: 7th graders who play in the SPFBL Middle School program will need to play 13U summer age, even if they are eligible for 12U.  All other 7th graders subject to grandfathering and who have a choice by virtue of a young birthday may elect to play either 12U or 13U per the Babe Ruth age chart. 

Exception incoming 1st Graders: Incoming 1st graders who are by age-rules technically 6U may try out for 7U, provided that they understand that if they mak a 7U team, they will be required to play 7U again next year. 

MIDDLE SCHOOL EXCEPTION: If you are a young 7th Grader planning to tryout for the Middle School program but also 12U eligible because of your birthday, you may elect to try out for 12U at the December tryouts and also try out for the Middle School program.  We grant this exception because the nature of the Middle School program is slightly differrent.  In this case a 12U 7th grader who makes the Middle School program will be permitted to promote into the Middle School program. 

Tryout Location: Inman Sports Club, 990 Inman Avenue, Edison, NJ 08820

Dates (Actual timeslots per Age will be announced in the future):

Saturday 12/5/2015, 12-4PM

Sunday 12/6/2015, 9AM-3PM

Saturday 12/12/2015, 11AM-3PM

 *Middle School 7th/8th grade tryouts to be handled separately.  Separate communication coming.

Does Your Ballplayer Have a Young Birthday and You Are Not Sure Which Age Group to Try Out For?

We know the question you are asking for those players that are Age eligible to play in their age division (if different/down from their school grade). What should you do? All things remaining equal, we recommend playing with your age, just like almost every other Babe Ruth town does.  It gives the ballplayer, and the team, the best chances for maximum success on the field.  However for those players that are subjected to voluntary grandfathering, you do have that choice to make. We have outlined several FAQ's below. Any questions let me know:

Details of the Change from Grade to Date-of-Birth for Travel Age Eligibility

The key to understanding this is the cutoff birth date, which is April 30th.  Whatever age the ballplayer is on April 30th, thats the age group they are eligible for.

Example 1: A ballplayer who is 9 years old on April 30th (often a 3rd grader) is eligible for 9U (which means a9 year old and under). However, a player who is 8YO on April 30th is eligible for 8U or 9U, even if he/she is also in the 3rd grade. 

Example 2: A 4th grader who is 10 years old on April 30th must play for 10U.  However a 4th grader who turns 10 after April 30th (like on May 2nd for example) is still eligible to play 9U or 10U. 

Example 3: A 6th grader turns 12 on March 10th.  He/she is 12 on April 30th, so he/she is eligible for 12U.  Had that 6th graders birthday been on May 10th, he/she would have been eligible for 11U or 12U. 


This impacts last year's travel players who are now in 3rd grade or above only .  SPFBL will allow grandfathering for ballplayers wishing to stay with the age group associated with their grade, even if they are eligible to play the next age group down PROVIDED THAT (a) The ballplayer declares in advance his/her desire to stay with their grade, and (b) Commits to that decision regardless of the outcome of the tryout process.  Once the declaration is made, it cannot be undone until the following year.

Grandfathering does not apply to 2nd graders and below, or to players who were not in the travel program in 2014.  However, since we do not have a full 6U travel program, SPFBL will permit 1st graders who are 6U age eligible (i.e. turn 7 years old after April 30th) to play 7U travel baseball, PROVIDED THAT they acknowledge that they will also be 7U age next year (2016).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q:  What are the actual birth date ranges for each age group 7U thru 13U?

A:   Here are the birth date ranges for Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken rules for 2016:

7U: birthdates from May 1, 2006 through April 30,2007, regardless of grade. 

8U: birthdates from May 1, 2007 through April 30,2008, regardless of grade. 

9U: birthdates from May 1, 2006 through April 30,2007, regardless of grade. 

10U: birthdates from May 1, 2005 through April 30,2006, regardless of grade. 

11U  birthdates from May 1, 2004 through April 30,2005, regardless of grade. 

12U is birthdates from May 1, 2003 through April 30,2004, regardless of grade. 

Q:  Are there any special situations or exceptions?

A: YES, there are special situations for SPFBL:

7U example A 1st grader who is 6U age-eligible may try out for a 7U team.  However, that player must acknowledge that they understand that they will also be 7U next year (2016).  6U (and younger) kindergartners are not permitted to try out for 7U.

*SPECIAL NOTE FOR 7U TRAVEL PROGRAM The 7U spring season will entail a clinic-like atmosphere, with a full season of games coming only in the summer season.

MIDDLE SCHOOL TEAM exception Ã??Ã?¢?? 7th graders who make an SPFBL Middle School Team who are technically 12U eligible, are required to play SPFBL 13U in the summer.  We imagine this would be desired anyway as we donÃ??Ã?¢??t recommend high-caliber players who go from the 90Ã??Ã?¢?? diamond in the Middle School program back to 12U 50/70 diamond in the summer.   This applies only to 7th graders who make one of the two Middle School teams.  Other 7th graders who are 12U age eligible may exercise their option to play 12U should they so desire.

We also recommend that 12U eligible 7th graders try out now for 12U.  They will still be able to try out for Middle School when that tryout comes around.

Q:  What if my ballplayer is in 3rd grade, he/she was on the 8UA team last year, and desires to stay with his/her grade and play 9U on the same team this year.  Can he/she do that?

A: Unfortunately its a multi-edged answer that really ends up in and it depends:

Yes, your ballplayer can exercise their grandfathering option (provided that he/she played in the travel program in 2014) and declare they want to stay 9U even though he/she is 8U eligible.

However, if he/she doesnt make the 9U-A team, then they will be considered for 9U-B.  In other words, it depends on how the tryout goes. We can never guarantee a ballplayer will make a certain travel team.

Q:  Its understood that the tryout helps dictate whether a ballplayer makes an A or B team.  Thats always been the case every year.  Whats different this year with this change?

A:  Whats different is in the above example, there may be young 4th graders also trying out for the 9U team this year, instead of 10U.  This means that the 9U tryout dynamic is going to change somewhat. 

Lets say a ballplayer was in the bottom 25% of last years A team ability-wise. The fact that additional higher grade players will be trying out this year may push those that were in the bottom 25% of the A-team onto a B team.  Its also possible that this may not happen, and that the ballplayer makes the A-team.  We just donÃ??Ã?¢??t know until we have the tryouts, see the results and select the teams.  Were just pointing out how the change MAY affect the process this year.

Q:  So straight up opinion question - which would be a better level of competition, (1) playing on a 9U-A team, or (2) playing on a 10U-B team?

A:  Well again not to be evasive on the answer, because anything is possible.  But probabiity-wise based on what we see year to year?  The A experience in the lower age group is going to be more challenging and competitive than the B in the older age group.  Again that's 'as a rule', all other factors being equal.

Q:  What other factors are there?

Some other factors are: The feelings and desires of your ballplayer; The field size differential - for example in a case where you are choosing between 10U and 11U, the 10U field size is 46/60 while the 11U field size is 50/70.  And that field size differential works both ways.  For example your first impluse may be to have our ballplayer go with the bigger field size.  But consider whether another year at the smaller field size might be better for your ballplayer's confidence.  There is nothing wrong with expereiencing some solid successes at a smaller field size rather than rushing things to a bigger field prematurely.

Q: What if my kid, who is really good, doesnt make the 9U-A team, but I know that he can make the 8U-A team again.  Can he be put on the 8U-A team instead of a 9U-B team this year?

A: Unfortunately, the answer is NO.  The reason is simple: All of the teams will have been selected and announced already. Thats why the pre-declaration of what age group the ballplayer wants to be in is crucial.  Trying to accommodate a move like this after selection has been done would mean displacing kids that have already been notified they are on a certain team.  We will not do that. That's why the league needs to know in advance.  The commitment the ballplayer makes by declaring an age group in advance is that they will stay in that travel age group for the year, regardless of the tryout outcome.

Q: My son is a young 5th grader who is technically 10U eligible.  However he played 10U-A last year in the grade-based system.  Id like to see him play 11U-A travel this year so that he can move up and stay with his grade.  What should I do?

A: Unfortunately, we cant make that decision for you.  All we can do is lay out the scenarios, because it depends. 

If he moves up to 11U this year, the risk is that there will be 6th graders trying out also.  That doesnt mean that your son will not make the A team, it just means that its a possibility depending on what that 6th grade 11U talent pool looks like.  In reality, even if your kid declares 10U, if the 10U age group is particularly strong, its possible he wont make that A team either. At the same time, he might be capable of making both the 10U and the 11U A teams.  You should consider what your son would like to do, perhaps what you know about both age groups, and then help your player make the right decision for him/her.

If you have any questions in regards to the above or anything travel related, please email Travel Director Chris Bates at


Chris Bates

SPFBL Travel Director

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