City of Berkeley Baseball
The City of Berkeley offers instructional baseball for 5-6 year olds, and baseball teams for 7-15 year olds. For more information see Youth Baseball League registration on the city's Sports Programs page. (last updated: summer 2019)
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I'm interested in the instructional league (5-6 year-olds) baseball program put on by Berkeley City Dept of Recreation in San Pablo Park during the summer. Did you have good/bad experience? My son wants to do all sports, but he's, um, not the most coordinated guy. I can easily picture him getting clocked by a ball while daydreaming. My other fear is that he'll be a middling to poor player and lose self-confidence. I guess my question is: Do you think it is a supportive environment for kids to learn to play? -and- Would you leave your six-year-old alone there? (I may have to skip out during some practice time for his younger brother). reluctant sports mom
My son was in the 5-6 y.o. instructional league last summer at Cordonices Park (the other location to San Pablo park). The program is well run, safe, encouraging, and well supervised. The coaches are attentive about water and bathroom breaks (taken as a group). You can drop off your kid during practice time (as long as he/she conducts himself/herself well enough not to need your intervention) and pick up your child ON TIME at the end of practice. I think that the instructional league is a good fit if your child is interested, motivated and willing to try, regardless of skill level. The coaches work with the kids to teach them specific baseball skills through simple drills, but it's not all nonstop-action-fun-and-games time, if your child is expecting that--there's a lot of standing around waiting for the ball to come to you. With my son, he was more interested in the social aspects of practice time, and less with skill building. So he got bored quite a bit and was put in brief time outs quite often for not listening or goofing around with the other kids. Utimately, I decided that it was not a good fit and that that the coaches shouldn't have to ''babysit'' my child, so I took him out of the league. (Now we know that baseball is not his thing, and he's much happier riding his bike and running willy-nilly on the grass, which is how we spend our outside time these days.) Also, there were a few kids who came into the instructional league with more advanced baseball skills (and in my opinion, they should have let the kid with the most advanced skills ''play up'' in the next-older age group). So there can be a big skill gap between kids who have never connected ball to bat before, and kids who can knock the ball past second base. CC
Two of my sons did the instructional league years ago at San Pablo Park, from the ages of 5 till about 9. I have another child, 7, who is doing Little League now with Noll/Soll. I think the Berkeley program is a fine program for 5 and 6 year old kids at all skills levels, even kids who don;t know the first thing about baseball or who can't play a whit. It's very affordable, and it's a good way for little kids to be introduced to baseball. My experience was that Instructional League was very casual, maybe a little too casual? Mostly it was about just playing baseball (with little kid rules -- no outs, everybody gets a hit, etc. I think they all do that at this age).
Compared to Little League, it was much more of a social experience than a way for kids to learn baseball skills, though, and what the experience was like was almost completely dependent on the coach. Many of the coaches we had were just so-so, not really in to it that much, and sometimes not good at all in dealing well with kids that age. This could be true of other baseball leagues too, but my LL experience has been better - there is a lot of attention to age-appropriate direction and coaching. Our coaches were incredibly patient with the fidgeters and the out-of-focus kids playing in the dirt instead of watching the batter. This is what it's like with many 7-year-olds! LL also strikes me as having a more structured approach to teaching every kid specific skills, regardless of ability. For example, in LL, every kid cycles through the different positions and learns the basic tactics for that position. In Instructional League, my not-very-coordinated son ALWAYS played right or left field, way out where no balls ever came to him. The more talented kids honed their skills, always playing the more demanding positions. He still loved it anyway, loved being on a team, loved the idea of playing baseball, and he did get satisfaction from Instrucitonal League, remembers it fondly, and still has friends that he met playing baseball. However, now that we are in Little League, I can see that there really was not much attention paid in Instructional League to bringing him up to a higher skill level, and by the time he was 8 or so, only the talented kids were still in the program.
My child had a very positive experience in the City of Berkeley's summer league. The practices are beginning next week, but it may not be too late to get on a team. The parents were all very supportive, and I never heard any negative comments from any parents or coaches. My son started last year without any real baseball skills and at the end of the season he was able to bat, catch and throw. Also, parents were encouraged to participate in practices, snacks, etc. I now have experience with this league and NOLL/SOLL, and I find Berkeley league to be more mellow. It is also one of the cheaper leagues around. I think that it was $34 this year. mizzbee
I highly recommend the City of Berkeley's Summer Baseball program. The instructional league is for 5-6 year olds. They learn all the basics and the coaches emphasize FUN. Sign ups are happening now, but the season doesn't start until may or June. Contact the rec office at (510) 981-5153. More information is available on the City of Berkeley website under Recreation, City Wide Sports Program. Bennett
The City of Berkeley Rec Department runs a wonderful, affordable summer league. The games for the younger children are very mellow - no scores, everybody gets to bat - and the older youth games are played with traditional Little League rules. The tryouts are generally in March but we had some kids on the team that did not try out at all. Check out the city of Berkeley website or call the department for more information. My son really learned the fundamentals of the game and he made some wonderful friends. They also do not ask parents to participate in fundraisers, such as Noll Soll. The program, including jersey, runs around $40.00. Bennett