Del Mar Little League to split into two smaller leagues in 2013

Del Mar Little League (DMLL) is excited to announce that it will be splitting into two smaller, individual leagues beginning in 2013.

DMLL has been serving young people in the community since 1960. Just as Del Mar and Carmel Valley have grown over the years, so too has DMLL. By 2000, the league had grown so much that it exceeded size restrictions for one league and was forced by the governing body of Little League to add a second charter, thus dividing the league into two, but operating under one board.

For the past 12 seasons, under a special waiver, Little League International has allowed the league to operate as one of the largest Little League’s in the country, with almost 1,000 players, under one board of directors. The goal and directive from Little League International was for this waiver to last a maximum of two seasons, at which time the league would need to split the boundaries and form two completely separate leagues, under two boards of directors.

For the past 12 seasons, the league has been operating under that same two-year waiver, continuing to fight for the right to keep the leagues together in order to not have to go through the great effort to complete the split. The job for the board has always been very difficult, but manageable, as players of all ages bounce back and forth from one league to the next during their Little League tenure. During a player’s final year or two of their Little League career, most players play in the Majors Division. Players had been drafted into one of the leagues or the other in an open draft format, but once a player was drafted into a particular league, they needed to complete their Little League career in that same league.

“Every year this caused our board of directors a tremendous amount of stress. No matter what we did, we would always have complaints of manipulation or lack of transparency. Some folks just weren’t happy with their manager, their team, or the perceived strength of a different team, so they suggested that our board was making attempts to make one league stronger than another, and considering that was never the case, it was always very frustrating,” stated DMLL President Joe Caprice. “We always had complaints of manager placement, and team manipulation and, frankly, it has been a very difficult task to make everyone in the community happy. Our league has just been too large, which has made it difficult to run and to the rest of the league has appeared to lack transparency.”

Finally, after modest pressure from Little League International over many years, as well as dealing with the frustrations from many of our league members, claiming league manipulation, when the topic of league split was presented this year by the District 31 officials, the board voted unanimously (19-0) to proceed with the split. The new boundary for the two leagues is Highway 56, with Del Mar National now operating on the south side and Del Mar American on the north side. Players who reside in those neighborhoods will only be allowed to play in the league in which boundary they live. District 31 Administrator Larry Burch expressed his pleasure that DMLL has finally complied with the wishes of Little League International, stating, “I appreciate the great effort that has gone in to this transition by the Del Mar board. My thanks to all of you for working with me on this split to satisfy the needs of Little League in making the Del Mar Little Leagues like leagues are supposed to be: small, community-based and locally operated to serve the youth of their community.”

“The board was exhausted from all of the complaining about perceived manipulation, and it was simply time to stop fighting the request from the district to proceed with the split” explained Jeff Bernstein, a long-time board member and current Majors Division coordinator. “This board this year is also in a unique position to complete the split over the next 12 months considering the current membership has 10 members on the north side of the Highway and nine members on the south side. In addition, we have just about the same number of returning majors players on each side.”

The board is extremely excited about the split, and is confident that it will allow for some fantastic opportunities to create a much more enjoyable and harmonious Little League experience for the kids. For example, the intent for the leagues as of now is to have each league have a “Home Base” where most of the games are played every Saturday. Ashley Falls Elementary will be the home of Del Mar American and Sage Canyon Elementary will be the home of Del Mar National.

“We intend to play almost every game from each league at the same location each Saturday” discussed past DMLL President and current Treasurer Larry Jackel. “Creating this home base will allow the kids to have more of a Little League environment like when we grew up. We plan to have snack bars at each field and slightly shorter game times so that our multiple player families will be able to see both of their children play at the same park each weekend. We are hoping these become ‘Baseball Parks’ where each individual league can have pride in their League and a sense of League unity.”

Having two smaller leagues will also make the tough task of being a board member much more enjoyable. Average size for a large league throughout the country is about 350 players. Each Del Mar Little League will have over 400 players, so they will still be on the large side, but certainly more manageable.

“Hopefully the entire Del Mar Little League community understands that this move was something we simply had to do in order to comply with the wishes of Little League, and that our entire board is excited to bring about the change. We were simply tired of answering to our members about manipulation and lack of transparency, so continuing to fight to keep the leagues together was no longer an option. There will be a small adjustment period as we move forward, but we believe that the long run will result in a more harmonious and enjoyable environment for the kids,” summarized Caprice.

For more information and frequently asked questions please see the website at where you will find a FAQ link on the front page. Registration information for both leagues may also be found on the website.

— Submitted by Del Mar Little League President Joe Caprice.