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Little League?

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Little League?
I will be moving to the Yokohama area this summer (2011). Can anyone put me in touch with an organization where my son (turns 11 this summer) can play little league or equivalent? Thanks!
Re: Little League?
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Apr 8, 2011 9:09 AM | YBS Fan ]

Well, I'm in southern Yokohama, and the official Little League league that was in this area folded a few years ago. This area is mainly made up of independent baseball clubs for kids in 1st through 6th grades, mainly using the nanshiki ball (a rubber ball).

Most of the teams get their players from word of mouth at school. So if your son will be attending a public Japanese school, his peers would be the best source for that information. Otherwise, the local 区役所 (kuyakusho - ward office) often has notes on bulletin boards about teams looking for players. I also often see a poster for a youth softball team at a local Ear, Nose, Throat doctor's office and nearby pharmacy. Sporting goods stores also often support teams and will have posters with contact information.

If you're expecting a single youth baseball league with group tryouts and evenly distributed teams like Little League in the States, that may be hard to find. The club teams in my area are run by individuals with heavy support from both the mothers and fathers.

One enters a team between 1st and 3rd grades, then continues with the same team until graduating elementary school after 6th grade. Most teams are divided up between senior (5th and 6th graders) and junior (4th grade and below), although some clubs don't have enough players to divide up into two squads (which helps the younger kids mature faster, in my opinion). There are cases where kids move into the area and join a club later than 3rd grade, and there are the few rare occasions where a kid will quit one club and join another. But for the most part, the clubs retain the same kids year round, year after year.

Oh, did I mention that the club teams are year round? Well, they get a few weeks off during the summer and the month of January. Otherwise, there is practice every weekend and national holiday the other 46 weeks of the year. Practice for the juniors tends to be just in the morning, while the seniors are from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm in the summer, to 4:30 in the winter (due to the sun going down earlier). Juniors often have afternoon games as well.

As I've hinted at above, teams aren't really organized into leagues. There are several tournaments which span several weeks that the teams play in. These tournaments tend to draw from clubs within a particular ward or locale. Some tournaments are round robin, so each team plays each other to decide the champion. The champions of these round robin tournaments then get invited to single and double elimination tournaments which are city wide. Winners of those go on to participate in prefectural level tournaments. I'm not sure if there's a national tournament at this level of play or not.

Hope this helps.
Re: Little League?
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Apr 8, 2011 12:26 PM | NIP Fan ]

I dunno, but as a JHS teacher here I heard a lot about the "Little Senior" little league scene, which is for 7th through 9th grade. Little League is below that, too. Some of my boys had been playing Little League since 1st grade, basically. Our school didn't have a baseball club, so that's what they did for their baseball.

From a glance, here's a Yokohama Aoba Little League team for 4th- through 6th-graders? Maybe that'll help?

If you're looking for one for foreigners, also, I know that there's one loosely affiliated with the MLB Japan people that plays like once a week at the American School in Japan (ASIJ), and a big percentage of the kids aren't Japanese. I'm not sure exactly how you get into that though.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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