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Sports

January 13, 2009

Byfield, Newbury, Merrimac form partnership with Little League

Amesbury and Groveland won't be the only local towns represented in the Williamsport Little League Tournament next summer.

Last week, two other local factions — one from Byfield and Newbury, and one from Merrimac — voted in favor of joining Little League Baseball, effective immediately. The respective leagues will be known as Byfield-Newbury Little League and Merrimac Little League. Youth baseball players in Byfield, Newbury and Merrimac previously participated in the Intertown League, along with teams from Georgetown, Rowley, Salisbury and Seabrook.

The two new leagues will follow the rules of Little League Baseball. At season's end, each league's coaches and players will select a 12-year-old all-star team to participate in the Williamsport Tournament, which is broadcast on ESPN each August.

Newburyport's youth baseball league, the Pioneer League, also does not have a partnership with Little League Baseball. The league's board of directors gave coaches the option to vote on the matter in 2006, and the majority voted to remain independent. The common sentiment appeared to be a concern that joining Little League Baseball, which is renown for its worldwide all-star tournament, would take the focus off developmental aspects. League president Bob Horne said last summer he did not foresee the board readdressing the Little League union in the near future.

Byfield-Newbury Little League Vice President Martin Chatterton said the Williamsport Tournament played a minimal factor in the push for a union with Little League Baseball.

"It has nothing to do with the World Series," Chatterton said. "The odds of that happening ... We wanted structure for the league. We wanted access to the benefits Little League provides. They provide brochures that show that the primary focus is teaching fundamentals to kids. It gives us a greater depth of resources with coaching clinics. If we have problems, we can call a Little League representative to handle disputes."

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