Although we are in the midst of one of the rainiest months ever and March seems an eternity away, it’s not too early to be thinking about baseball! Registration for San Francisco Little League’s (SFLL) Spring 2023 season is now open. For the past 20+ years, SFLL has put on a Challenger Division which gives kids and young adults with physical and cognitive challenges—both boys and girls—the opportunity to play baseball with their peers.
SFLL’s Challenger Division got its start in 2000 with a single team of about 10 kids. Since then, the program has grown steadily and now serves more than 50 kids and their families. One of our teams specifically serves our more senior players, including those that are new to the game. For our junior teams, kids must be at least five years old as of January 1, 2023, to be eligible. Most players come back year after year, with some kids having played in the program for five or more years.
Challenger games are played on Sundays from March until early June. Games typically start at 2pm and last for about an hour. All games are non-competitive, as there are no outs, and each player gets to move along the base paths and score. Participation is at all times tailored to each player’s abilities.
Players are assisted on the field either by their family members or by our many volunteers. (We are always looking for more volunteers!) Volunteers typically include ballplayers from SFLL teams in other divisions and several of our local high schools. SF Police Department officers have been known to show up to volunteer as well, by pitching, helping players around the bases or umpiring.
Our home games are at two fields – Tepper Field (SFLL’s flagship field on Treasure Island) and Riordan High School. Many of our games are “intra league” against one of the other teams in SFLL’s Challenger Division. However, our teams also play against other Challenger teams from throughout the Bay Area. Teams can expect to play a handful of road games, typically in Marin, Oakland or the northern Peninsula.
The season runs until early June with games each Sunday, except for Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day and the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. The final Sunday of the season is a special round-robin game with all SFLL Challenger teams playing together. After the regular season concludes, players get to participate in an on-field clinic at Oracle Park, hosted by the San Francisco Giants. Exact timing varies from year to year, but the clinic usually takes place in July or August.
Little League is an all-volunteer non-profit organization supporting over 30,000 Challenger players in 10 countries. While a registration fee of $100 is requested, partial and full fee waivers are available so that no one is turned away.
The Challenger program welcomes kids and young adults whether they’ve loved baseball all of their lives or have never seen a glove. Come join us!
Online registration for Spring 2023 is currently underway at www.SFLL.org/challenger. You can also contact us directly about Challenger baseball programs throughout the Bay Area and how to get involved by emailing [email protected].
Please consider sharing your skills with the Challenger program. We welcome any/all (even if it’s just to show up a couple of Sundays).