Jay Newhall, a baseball coach and the umpire-in-chief in the Wyoma Little League, said he favors the new Little League bat regulations that go in to effect nationwide for the 2018 season.
Though the change in regulations for all bats hasn’t garnered much attention locally and few, if any stories have been written about it, Lynn Little League’s five organizations and their officials have known about it and have made the necessary changes to implement and meet the new bat specifications.
The new regulations require that all baseball bats (softball bats are unaffected by the changes) must be stamped with the “USA Baseball” logo. The bats must be made of wood or “materials tested and approved acceptable to the USA Baseball bat standard.” The bat diameter must not exceed two and five-eighths inches.
Newhall speaks about the new regulations from many perspectives. He is a former high school and college baseball star who played in the College Baseball World Series and in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League. He earned multiple tryouts with Major League Baseball organizations and played for the Nashua team in the Independent League.
“The change in bats was made to have a safer environment for the players,” said Newhall. “It’s going to change the game a little bit. The ball is not going to come off the bat with the same velocity as it used to. It’s being done to protect the pitcher and the fielders.”
When Newhall played in the Wyoma Little League as a youth, he led the league with 11 home runs, a phenomenal total back when the baseball bats were not nearly as well-constructed. Newhall expects home run totals to decrease this season because of the changes.
“The new bat is going to slow the game down, but ultimately it will create a better experience for all the kids, not just some of them,” said Newhall, whose son, Shea, plays in the Wyoma Little League (His daughter, Lily, is a two-time Wyoma Softball League MVP and daughter Adyson, plays in the Wyoma Minor League Division).
“I favor the changes being made,” continued Newhall. “I think everyone likes to hit home runs but with these new bats, you’re not going to see many home runs. You are going to see a better game with teams having to create ways to score. It’s going to have a little more of an old-school baseball kind of feeling because these bats aren’t going to be belting the ball out of the park. All-around, if you’re looking to make it a better experience and safer experience for the players, this is what Little League Baseball had to do, and that’s what they did.”
Lynn’s five Little League organizations, Wyoma, East Lynn, West Lynn, Pine Hill, and Lynn Shore are set to begin their seasons. The Alice O’Neil Challenger Little League program will commence with Opening Day festivities next Sunday at East Lynn’s Volunteer Field.