Youth baseball in North Adams is making the switch from Little League to Cal Ripken.
The transition, which begins for the 2016 season, marks the sixth area league in Western Massachusetts District 1 under Cal Ripken. Other area leagues are in Williamstown, Lanesborough, South Berkshire, Lee/Lenox and Pownal (Vt.).
Cal Ripken Baseball, a part of Babe Ruth Baseball, will allow players from North Adams, Adams, Cheshire, Florida, and Clarksburg into the new North Adams league.
"Having North Adams come in is a nice addition," Jim Edelman, the state commissioner for Cal Ripken Baseball, said. "We've had great cooperation with leagues in the past, and we look forward to helping develop many young players in North Adams. In the end, we just want to get as many people involved in baseball as possible."
Edelman founded Cal Ripken Baseball in Western Mass. in 2000. That year there was one team with 11 players. Now, Western Mass. alone has about 8,000 players across 37 or so leagues.
"We didn't recruit them," Edelman said of the North Adams league. "But, after talking with their president and board, they said they had been considering it for several years.
"They were attracted by the fact that they will have more local control of their league through the Ripken program," Edelman added.
As for Little League, there are remaining leagues in Adams, Dalton/Hinsdale, Great Barrington and Pittsfield, where there are two leagues. Those are split up into Pittsfield National and Pittsfield American.
There will be an informational meeting about the switch on Wednesday at the YMCA in North Adams at 6 p.m. for parents who may want to learn about it. Edelman, along with some of the administrators, will be in attendance.
"For us, we've got some programs in the county, but this will be our largest," Edelman said. "North Adams is a sizable town. Williamstown has their own charter in Ripken, so they'll have separate charters, but those two leagues will cooperate as far as interleague play."
Cal Ripken has three levels of leagues, beginning with players age 4-7, then 8-10 and finally the 11-12 league.
In other news surrounding District 1 Cal Ripken, the field at the Steiner School in Great Barrington will be changed from 46 feet/60 feet to 50/70 for 11-12 year olds.
The field was upgraded a bit last season, but it will be completely done over with a whole new infield.
It will be done through volunteer work, led by Rich Lassor of Nature Works Land Care.