League sees decline in number of players
By Bill Tamburrino
Players from Ramona PONY baseball league are competing in the double elimination tournaments that began last week.
Ramona hosted the sectional tournaments with 11 Pinto teams, five Mustang 9U teams, 11 Mustang teams, five Bronco 11U teams, nine Bronco teams, five PONY 13U teams and seven PONY leagues participating. The tournaments will continue until July 2. At press time, all Ramona teams were still playing.
Winners of the sectional tournaments continue to the next level’s tourney. All tournaments are double elimination. The national and international champs are crowned in August.
The Ramona Sports Association is the governing body of PONY baseball in Ramona. PONY is an acronym for Protect Our Nation’s Youth.
Ramona PONY baseball has five divisions: Shetland (or tee ball), which is age 6 and under; Pinto, ages 7 and 8; Mustang, ages 9 and 10; Bronco, ages 11 and 12; and Pony, ages 13 and 14. Ramona formerly fielded Colt teams for ages 15 and 16.
In some tournaments divisions are divided into two separate teams. Mustang, Bronco and Pony have 9U, 10U, 11U, 12U, 13U and 14U tournaments. U stands for “under” so a 13-year-old could play on a 14U team. Ramona RSA fields 35 teams and has 420 boys playing during its spring league which runs from March to May. It fields slightly less teams during the winter league which runs from September to November.
The cost to participate is about $190 for spring league and that includes a full uniform that the player keeps. The cost for winter ball is $95. Families with more than one boy playing get a $10 discount per extra ballplayer. The league finds a way to sponsor boys who can’t afford to play.
After the spring season, the divisions select tournament teams. Tournament season begins with the annual Memorial Day Tournament in Ramona, followed by the national and international tournaments.
The numbers are down in Ramona and in every other league. Board members and league coaches attribute it to declining school enrollment, the economy, and travel ball, which takes athletes from recreational leagues in most sports. A growing trend among young athletes to play just one sport year-round is also hurting the numbers.