New Tiverton youth baseball league kicks off inaugural season

Tiverton Baseball founded by former Little League supporters

By Ted Hayes
Posted 4/24/23

The fields were green, the skies dry, and while it wasn't the warmest day ever, April baseball is always a gamble. But the founders of Tiverton Baseball , a new youth baseball league that held its …

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New Tiverton youth baseball league kicks off inaugural season

Tiverton Baseball founded by former Little League supporters


The fields were green, the skies dry, and while it wasn't the warmest day ever, April baseball is always a gamble. But the founders of Tiverton Baseball, a new youth baseball league that held its inaugural opening day  at the Tiverton Town Farm Saturday morning, hope and believe their gamble will pay off.

The league, a brand new venture unaffiliated with Little League Baseball but instead, the Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken League, was founded in November by a group of long-time baseball lovers from town, many of whom have had years of leadership experience in the town's long-running little league program. Founders decided to break away over concerns that the Little League organizational model Tiverton has been a part of since 1952 deprives kids of having a full youth baseball experience, has too many rules and regulations, and in some cases forces youngsters to compete against kids who are older and more advanced.

"Our goal in starting Tiverton Baseball is to create an organization that is primarily focused on player success," founders wrote in an open letter to the community in early November. "It will also create a model environment for player development. All decisions made by Tiverton Baseball will be made based on the players’ best interest."

Such hasn't always been the case, said Jason Methia, a long-time and former Little League coach who was one of five founding members of the new league. In Tiverton, he said, he and other parents had become concerned that the parent organization's policies weren't allowing kids the best experience they could have.

"We wanted to make sure that we have a league that's well-run, positive, and 100 percent focused on baseball. It's not necessarily at the local level ... it's about the overall parent organization, how they're set up and how it impacts the players."

No hard feelings

By Methia's measure, the league has been amazingly successful in its early fund-raising, sponsorship and player drives, and started out on opening day with a total roster of approximately 135 kids — about two dozen fewer than Little League had last year.

"It has been a blessing," league president Chad Mercer added. "Things needed to change. With that said, everyone has stepped up to the plate and was 100 percent dedicated to it, and got it done. It's hard for me — I have a long reputation with baseball in town. But we knew it would definitely work. I have to give a shoutout to everyone in town."

With an expected influx of kids pulled from the Little League, Tiverton Baseball founders asked in their November letter that Little League officials cancel their baseball season this year, writing that having two unaffiliated leagues in a town the size of Tiverton "would not be optimal."

Little League president Michael DeCotis said he and others were surprised to read that letter, but after speaking to Little League parent organization officials, decided to stick it out and see what kind of interest there would be this year. He's been pleasantly surprised, he said.

Apart from a successful girls' softball program that currently hosts 144 players — the second largest program in the state — enough players (94) signed up for baseball that they'll have a season. Little League's opening day is Saturday.

"Whatever animosity that existed between adults doesn't matter," he said. "It's all about the kids and our board is concentrating on making this the great league it's always been. Maybe it's got 100 kids less than last year, but we're still here. We're very proud of that."

As for the new league, he wishes it much success.

"I wish it wasn't at our expense, but as long as the kids are playing ball, awesome. That program they started is dedicated to baseball, and I think the object for them would be to build a stronger brand that they can control well. Little League is full of rules, I'll give them that — we get the reasons why (they left) but it's not a big deal in the end. There's room for everyone and we wish them the best."

2023 by East Bay Media Group

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.