The rules and field size of the Little League® Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division are designed with flexibility in mind, but how does a local league go about building a field for these tweeners?
The Intermediate Baseball field dimensions are, as the name implies, between those of the traditional Little League diamond and a standard baseball diamond. With a pitching distance of 50 feet and base path distance of 70 feet. The recommended range of distance, during regular season, from home plate to the outfield fence is 200 to 275 feet.
As a Little League volunteer, Jeff Fowler, has overseen the construction and conversion of baseball fields for the Intermediate division.
Mr. Fowler is the Penn State Extension District 2 Director for Clarion, Warren, Venango, and Forest Counties and the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) Academic Director. During the annual Little League Baseball® World Series in Williamsport, Pa., he oversees the volunteer crews responsible for preparing and maintaining the championship fields. Along with consulting on hundreds of Little League fields, Mr. Fowler also has served as a consultant for the maintenance plans at four of the five Little League regional centers in the United States.
Start small, and expand
“If a league has the choice, I would suggest converting a Major Division-size field,” said Mr. Fowler.
The bases and pitchers plate on an Intermediate field are behind a 46/60 foot distance, so you can remove the bases, and not have them be in the field of play. If you convert a 60/90 field, the base anchors would be in the grass portion of the field and half the mound would be in play. The Little League Baseball Rulebook gives guidelines, but does not specify the size of infield dirt area, so there is flexibility.
Tweak the infield and outfield
On a Major Division field, it is 55 feet to the back arc of the infield dirt from the center of the mound. Mr. Fowler suggests cutting the edge of the outfield grass back an additional 10 feet to allow the Intermediate players the proper amount of infield space. Because baseballs will likely travel further because of the larger barrel bats being used in this division, move the fence to 275 feet, or further, from home plate, extend the fence height, or both. There are guidelines for foul territory, but they are not rules. Take the safety of the players, volunteers and fans into consideration (bleachers, spectator areas and dugouts) when making structural decisions.
Enlarge the pitcher’s mound area and consider a portable mount
The pitcher’s plate will need to be moved back from 46 to 50 feet, meaning the slope of the mound will need to be adjusted to get the proper height for the pitcher’s plate. There is flexibility in the size of the infield dirt, so, you can make one, large mount to accommodate both pitching distances. A portable pitcher’s mound is also a great solution because you can simply keep the infield level, and adjust the mound according to who is using the field. True Pitch is currently the only portable mound approved by Little League for official game use.
Consider the cost
A field conversion can be done for around $1,000 if you have the right tools and materials (i.e. – sod cutter, base anchors, bases, and pitcher’s plate). But also consider costs of fencing, dugouts, and other additions to a field your converting.
A new field is a bigger project.
“Approximately 42-45,000 square feet is the average area needed for the footprint of a newly-constructed Intermediate 50/70 baseball field,” said Mr. Fowler. When budgeting for a new field, plan for between $75,000 and $150,000. Considering geography, the costs for labor and materials are near the top of a large list of cost variables.
Since its first season in 2013, the Little League Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division has offered a more competitive division and provided a program for 11- to 13-year-olds. Each local Little League program should discuss the Intermediate (50/70) Division at a league meeting to determine what would be the best way to offer the program to the members of your local league.