With five different divisions and three different age groups, the North Texas Amateur Baseball League is home to players of all ages and abilities. At our tryout, we’ll host anywhere from twenty to forty players, all hoping to find a team. We get every type of player imaginable, from players fresh out of college to older guys picking up a glove and bat for the first time in twenty years. We’re a pretty diverse group, but we all have one thing in common; we love baseball.
As an organization, we want to make sure everyone finds a playing situation that is a fit for them and the team they join. So, how do we find spots for all of of these different players?
First, there are age groups.
Over 18, Over 35 and Over 45. For the Over 18 leagues, you have to actually be 18 years of age before you can play. For legal and insurance reasons, you cannot play before your 18th birthday, even with parental consent. Sorry. For the 35 and 45 age group, your playing age is determined by your age on December 31st, so someone who turns 45 anytime during the year is eligible to play in the 45 league (and the same goes for the 35).
We also have different competition levels
Rookie League (Beginner), Open American (Intermediate) and Open National (Advanced). Which one is right for you?
Most guys can make the transition from slow pitch softball to the Rookie League fairly easily and just need to brush up on some of the finer points of the game. Other guys can even jump straight to the Open American or the 35/45 leagues. Time line to get your groove back? We tell prospects to expect a game for every year since you last played. If it has been ten years since you last played hardball, figure on ten games to get back to where you feel comfortable playing. To compete in the Open National, you’ll need experience and advanced ability, think college or some level of minor league ball.
The tryout itself is more like a practice.
We find everyone a spot on the infield and for about twenty minutes you’ll get a chance to field ground balls, “turn two” and throw to all the bases. Just go to where you are comfortable. First baseman? Get over there! You can play any position? Show us! After we’re done, we’ll have everyone grab a drink of water and then we’ll move to the outfield. Similarly, everyone will get an opportunity to field some fly balls, hit the cut-off man, and throw to all the bases. If you aren’t an outfielder, no problem. You can catch in or serve as a cut off man. After the fielding drills are over we’ll start a batting practice session. All players will get a quick ten swing BP. Don’t worry too much if you don’t mash it. The managers are mostly looking at your swing, not the result of it. Simultaneously to BP, pitchers and catchers will report to the bullpen, where you will have a short throwing session. Now would be the time to show you can throw strikes. A pitcher that can hit his spots with one pitch will be more effective than a pitcher with five pitches, but can’t throw any of them for strikes. [Edit: If we have enough prospects, we’ll hold a scrimmage instead of BP. There is NOTHING more boring than watching 30 guys take BP.]
The entire workout from registration to locking up should take no more than a couple of hours. Plan on arriving at least 30 minutes prior to the starting time so you can stretch and throw a little. You don’t want to start the season on the Disabled List!
A little up front honesty…
To be perfectly transparent, the NTABL is a pay-for-play league. We have no scholarships, benefactors or subsidies by any entities or institutions. We have to pay for insurance, baseballs, field rentals and have money in the treasury for umpires before we can even put our schedule together. What this means to you, player, is you must have your player fees, all of them, paid on time. The cost to play in our league is only about $14 per game and we feel as an entertainment value, that’s a pretty good deal.
Before you try out, we are going to ask you to pay your fees, or at least half of them. The reason for this is because too many times in the past, players would come try out, get drafted, then never be heard from again because they either could not or would not pay his fee. That player certainly would not have been taken if the manager knew ahead of time the player had no intention of paying.
You can save yourself a lot of time
Pre-register and pre-pay. When you register and pay to be a Premium Free Agent, you are guaranteed a spot on a team and may attend the tryout to be drafted. If you are drafted by a regular league team, your Premium Free Agent fees transfers to your new team and you simply pay the remainder of your team fee. If you are not drafted, you are guaranteed a spot in the Rookie League. You can also be picked out of the Rookie League and moved up to a regular league team during the season. If you are NOT drafted, we cannot find you another team and the Rookie League is not an option (for example: you work on Saturdays) we simply refund your money.
What to bring.
Wear baseball attire: baseball pants, appropriate shirt or jersey (some guys like to wear their “hometown” unis, and we think that’s COOL!), cleats (metal OK), socks, cap, belt. Dress like a player.
Bring your gear: Glove, wood bat, batting helmet, catcher’s gear if you are a catcher.
Also bring: Hydration; water, Powerade, etc. Other items such as sunflower seeds, gum, etc. NO tobacco products!
After the workout, we’ll gather the managers together and hold a draft. Honestly, this process takes a few minutes, but we are able to place the vast majority of our prospects (98% over the past three years). In most cases we’ll just announce you to your team and you will get to meet your manager. Depending on the circumstances, the league will sometimes try to find a spot for un-drafted players, but most will be assigned to the Rookie League. If you absolutely cannot handle that, let us know. Just be aware that we’ll ask you to try Rookie League before you dismiss it.
At the tryout, respect your fellow prospects. Not everyone has the same ability and it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there in front of a lot of folks you don’t know at a baseball tryout. Some of you guys are so good, you’ve never had to try out and others might not have attended anything like this for many years. If the guy next to you boots one, has a ball clank off his glove or corkscrews into the ground swinging at a curve ball, a little pat on the back and a smile is in order. You are no longer in high school and not competing against the guy next to you for a spot on the team. You are merely trying to find a spot on a team. Just try to have some fun with it, because today, we get to play baseball!