Morris County Challenger Little League - New Jersey Sports for Children With Disabilities
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The Morris County Challenger Little League, Est. 1999

The Challenger League is a baseball league for disabled children, that was established in 1986, by Williamsport Little League. Bergen and Union counties in New Jersey had instituted their Challenger League programs since 1989. The Morris County Challenger Little League was established in 1999. The dedicated volunteers create a positive environment for the children who are in need of this program. The majority of the participants are from Morris County, and a few from the neighboring counties. The ages of participation are: 5 years old to 21 years old. The 21 year old must be attending a school in order to participate. The Baseball schedule begins in the middle of April and ends at the end of June. The games are played at a different town every weekend. Below you will find the number of participants in the league since 1999:

  • 62 players participated in 1999 of our 1st. season
  • 65 players participated in 2000 of our 2nd. season
  • 63 players participated in 2001 of our 3rd. season
  • 83 players participated in 2002 of our 4th. season
  • 102 players participated in 2003 of our 5th. season
  • 98 players participated in 2004 of our 6th. season
  • 92 players participated in 2005 of our 7th. season
  • 100 players participated in 2006 of our 8th. season
  • 98 players participated in 2007 of our 9th. season
  • 120 players participated in 2008 of our 10th. season
  • 100 players participated in 2009 of our 11th. season
  • 111 players participated in 2010 of our 12th. season
  • 97 players participated in 2011 of our 13th. season
  • 96 players participated in 2012 of our 14th. season
  • 113 players participated in 2013 of our 15th. season
  • 92 players participated in 2014 of our 16th. season
  • 94 players participated in 2015 of our 17th. season
  • 92 players participated in 2016 of our 18th. season
  • 83 players participated in 2017 of our 19th. season!

Morris County Challenger Tee Ball Little League Rules by Lou DiFalco; Mgr.

The rules are kept simple. The Tee Ball level is for the children with lower functioning needs. Eventually some players do move up to the Major League level, when the it’s appropriate. The game rules for the Tee Ball level are:

  1. The games are 2 to 3 innings long. Their attention span is key.
  2. Every Challenger League Player is assisted with a BUDDY on the Field.
  3. Every Challenger League player gets a turn at bat in the inning.
  4. As the batter hits the ball, they run base to base.
  5. Every 4th batter in the line up, hits a Home Run to clear the bases. After the last batter hits the 2 teams switch places on the field.
  6. The game ends in a tie.

Morris County Challenger Major Little League Rules by Lou DiFalco; Mgr.

Introduction

The following rules have been established for Morris County Challenger Little League (MCCLL) baseball games. The MCCLL is made up of six teams. Four teams participate at the Tee Ball level while two (Yankees and Mets) play at the Major level. In general, the special needs participants in Majors are older and higher functioning children, many of whom possess good baseball skills. The following rules apply to Majors only and not to the tee ball teams.

Purpose

Because of the cognitive and physical disabilities of the Challenger players, some Little League rules have been modified. These modifications seek to provide an “equal playing field” for disabled and non-disabled players. The rules also impose temporary “impairments” on the non-disabled players (who will hereinafter be referred to as “Buddies.”)
Buddies are players, both boys and girls, who participate in the hosting town’s organized baseball programs (e.g. Little League Baseball, Girls Softball, Recreation Leagues, school ball, etc.) Buddies aid Challenger players at the tee ball level and play against Challenger players at the Major level.

Overview

Buddies will encounter Challenger players with various types and degrees of disabilities.  Impairments may include Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, and other mental, developmental, and physical disabilities.  Because of these impairments, it is difficult for Challenger players to participate in standard organized baseball.  The Challenger League offers these children and young adults, many of whom understand aspects of the game and take playing very seriously, an opportunity to play at a level commensurate with their ability.   The rules presented in this document provide a framework for Challenger and Buddy players to compete against each other in an equitable way. Buddies should be encouraged to play to the best of their ability against the Challenger players within these MCCLL established rules.   In addition to providing a valuable community service, the Buddies will learn what it is like to compete when their abilities have been temporarily disabled.  The experience can help Buddies to understand and appreciate the everyday challenges of the ballplayers in the Challenger League.   The following rules will be reviewed with Buddies and hosting Coaches prior to the game. However, Buddy players and coaches should feel free to ask Challenger coaches for clarification of these rules at any time during a game.

1.00  General Rules :  At the Major level, Buddies compete against Challenger players.

1.01  A MCCLL Majors Game is five innings long. Weather conditions, like excessive heat, thunder and lightning, and/or rain, may shorten the game. In certain situations, the game may be lengthened to no more than six innings.
1.02  Since the Challenger League does not have a home field, but “barnstorms” other towns, the Buddies are always the home team. Since the Challenger team is always the away team, the Challenger team always bats first.

1.03  There are two Challenger Major games (Yankees and Mets) played at the same time on separate fields. These games generally begin at 4:00PM on a Sunday or Saturday. Both Challenger teams play against a team of Buddies.
1.04  Challenger and Buddy players may be substituted as necessary. A Challenger or Buddy player may leave the game and re-enter, at any time, between or during an inning.
1.05  All Challenger players shall play in the field, regardless of how many in attendance. It is not unusual to have 12 or more Challenger players in the field.
1.06  All Challenger players shall hit, regardless of how many in attendance. It is not unusual to have 12 or more Challenger players in the lineup.
1.07  Buddies will play a maximum of ten players in the field at any given time. If more than ten Buddies have volunteered, free substitution should be employed.
1.08  All Buddies may participate in the hitting line-up, regardless of the number in attendance.
1.09  The infield fly rule is not enforced in Challenger games.

2.00  Hitting Rules for Challenger Batters

2.01  Challenger batters may not swing a bat to warm up. The on-deck batter waits in the dugout for his or her turn to bat.
2.02  Challenger batters must wear helmets when batting and running.
2.03  Challenger batters may use an aluminum or wooden bat provided by the league, or one of their own.
2.04  Challenger batters will receive six pitches from a pitcher/coach (Buddies and Challenger players do not pitch.)

2.05  The Challenger batter may swing at all six pitches in an attempt to put the ball in play. Foul balls count in the allotment of six pitches. The rule of three strikes is not in effect for a Challenger batter.
2.06  In the event the ball is not put into play after six pitches, the Challenger batter must hit off a batting tee. The tee will be placed on top of home plate.
2.07  The challenger batter is given three swings off the tee to put the ball in play.
2.08  If the challenger batter fails to put the ball in play after the combination of six pitches and three swings, it will be called an out on strikes.
2.09  If a Challenger batter is hit by a pitch from the pitcher/coach, the Challenger batter will take first base.
2.10  By discretion, a Challenger batter may walk if the pitcher/coach feels they have not thrown a ball where the Challenger batter had a reasonable chance of making contact. This assumes the batter has not swung at four of the six pitches.
2.11  The Challenger batting inning is over when the Challengers have made three outs or they have completely batted around the lineup.

3.00  Hitting Rules for Buddy Batters

3.01  Buddy batters must wear a helmet when hitting and running.
3.02  Buddy batters will hit off of a tee only.
3.03  Buddy batters will use an aluminum bat only, for safety purposes (wood bats can shatter.)
3.04  Buddy batters must stand in the opposite batter’s box from their dominant hand. For example, a right handed batter must stand in the left handed batter’s box.
3.05  Buddy batters will swing with one hand, back handed, off the tee. For example, a right handed Buddy batter will swing with his right arm, back handed, off the tee while standing in the left handed batter’s box.
3.06  Buddy batters have three swings to put the ball in play.
3.07  Foul balls off the tee count as strikes for Buddy batters but do not count as a third strike.
3.08  A swing by the Buddy batter that strikes the tee and not the ball is considered a foul ball.
3.09  A Buddy Batter will strike out if they swing and miss the ball or tee on a third strike.
3.10  The Buddies are out when Buddies have three outs or all Buddies have batted around the lineup.

4.00  Base Running for Challenger Players 

4.01  Challenger runners may run to each base.
4.02  Challenger base runners may not steal bases.
4.03  Sliding is permitted for Challenger runners.

5.00  Base Running for Buddy Players

5.01  After a Buddy player has hit the ball off the tee, the Buddy must hop to first base, or further, on one foot.
5.02  Buddy runners must hop from base to base on one foot, without changing feet, until they reach the next base. Changing feet at a base is allowed.
5.03  If a Buddy falls, they can get up and continue but they must resume hopping on the same foot.
5.04  While at a base, Buddies can stand on both feet.
5.05  Buddy runners may not steal bases.
5.06  If a Buddy runner runs or puts the other foot down while running, they will be called out.
5.07  A Buddy runner is allowed a couple of strides to begin hopping after they hit the ball. Three or more strides will constitute an out.
5.08  Buddy runners may be tagged out.

6.00  Challenger Players in the Field 

6.01  All participating Challenger players will play in the field, even if there are more than nine participants.
6.02  Challenger fielders will not pitch or catch.
6.03  Challenger fielders will play the normal positions with extra players positioned accordingly and based on their abilities.
6.04  Outs are made by Challenger fielders as they are in a standard game of baseball.
a.  Challenger fielders may catch the ball to make an out.
b.  Challenger fielders may force a runner by throwing to a base or stepping on the bag while holding the ball.
c.  Challenger fielders may tag a runner with the ball or with the ball in a glove.

7.00  Buddy Players in the Field

7.01  The Buddies will field a team of no more than ten players at a time.
7.02  The Buddies will not pitch or catch
7.03  Six Buddy fielders will ring the infield, a step in from the outfield grass, equidistant apart.
7.04  A Buddy fielder will play first base in the normal position.
7.05  There will be three buddy outfielders.
7.06  Outs made by Buddies in the field:
a.  A Buddy fielding a ground ball must first throw the ball to another Buddy fielder, who may then throw to the force out base. For example: on a ball hit to short, a Buddy shortstop may throw to any Buddy Fielder but not to first base or any other base where a force out can be made. The Buddy fielder receiving the first toss will then throw to the force base to make the out. This is known as the Challenger Double Toss Rule. The Challenger Double Toss Rule must be made prior to a force at any base.
b.  A Buddy Fielder may tag a Challenger runner out but only after the double toss has been made.
c.  Caught fly balls, line drives, and pop-ups constitute outs, just as in a standard game of baseball
7.07  Buddies must rotate their positions after each inning. In the past this was done after each Challenger batter. The rule is being changed here to quicken the pace of the game.