A few years ago, every 5th and 6th grader would have to try out if they wanted to get an opportunity to play in the “Majors,” which was adequately named after the real Major League Baseball. The draft would be held several days after these evaluations, and while the majors was probably more competitive back then, it caused a large amount of disappointed 5th and 6th graders who didn’t qualify for the league they knew was for the better players.
But now, the format has changed. Only one 5th grader is rostered on a Majors team (Chad Knight).
So maybe the highest level in Westport Little League doesn’t have quite the same competitive edge it once did, but it brings out the true point of little league baseball: having fun playing ball with your friends.
If a kid (or his parents) wants a boost in the competition, he should stick around in the summer and try out for the district’s squad. And for the 12 year old district’s team, there’s the chance to compete for the Little League World Series. Talk about fun and competitiveness coexisting.
Don’t get me wrong; I think the old system was great, and was effective at creating this “Major Leagues” idea. And obviously, every player, in the Majors or elsewhere, wants his team to be the best that it can be. But when any adult who played in the Westport Little League reflects on his youth baseball experience, he’s not going to be thinking about whether or not his team or others he played against were good.
He’ll remember how much fun he had playing baseball with his friends, and also all the new friends he made playing a sport he loved.
And if there happens to be a 5th grade stud or two, by all means, having them play in the Majors is just fine.