What are the age division’s names in PONY Baseball?

A question heard from some people new to PONY Baseball and Softball is “What are all these horse names?”  Hopefully this history of PONY Baseball and Softball will help answer those questions.  The names are the corporate and marketing names to distinguish between our programs for different age groups.  They are the developmental names of a horse as it ages.


What is the history of when the age groups were formed?

PONY Baseball Inc. was founded in 1951 in Washington, PA.  This was a transition league for 13-year-old and 14-year-old players designed to provide youth who had graduated from Little League a place to continue to play organized baseball.  As this was for 13-14 year olds, our 13-14 year old age group is named “Pony League”.

 

In 1953, a sister organization to PONY League was formed for 15 and 16 year old players in Martins Ferry, Ohio.  Mayor of Martin’s Ferry visited with first PONY Commissioner Lew Hays to develop the Colt League.  In 1959 Pony and Colt Leagues were merged into a single organization.

 

Bronco League, for 11 and 12 year old players, was organized in 1961 to permit players of this age to play the complete game of baseball.

 

In 1970 the Mustang League was developed in Fort Worth, TX to provide an organizational structure for leagues for beginning players, 9-and 10-year-olds. For communities using players of 7 and 8 years of age, rules and emblems were developed for Pinto League, a very elementary form of baseball.

 

Thorobred League was organized in the Tampa, FL area and became a part of PONY Baseball in 1973 to provide playing opportunity for those players from 17 - 20 years of age who have not entered professional play and who desire to participate in a community baseball program.

 

In 1977, Thorobred League age limits were expanded to include 21-year-old age players, and Palomino League was organized for players 17 and 18. The Thorobred League was discontinued as a PONY program in 1984, but the Palomino program continues with play for ages 17 and 18, with the addition of three 19 year old players per team.  Thorobred was brought back in 2014 as the 23 and under age group for Softball.

 

Shetland League, an instructional program originally for 5- and 6-year-olds, was formally adopted by PONY for the 1990 season with rules based on the experiences of a number of league organizations that had conducted play in this age group for several years.  Four year old participation was added later.


Have any new age division been created lately?

Yes, the Champions League.  The Champions League’s goal is to provide every child regardless of special needs the opportunity to participate in America’s favorite pastime of baseball and softball.  While many of our leagues have had some type of Champions League for years, PONY has officially organized this opportunity for children with special needs. 


As well we have re-created the Thorobred League for both Baseball and Softball.  Baseball’s Thorobred League is for players ages 23 to 17.  Softball’s Thorobred League is for players ages 23 and under (minimum age 4).


At the 2018 Board of Director's meeting a new Division was created named "Foal".  This age group pulls the 3 and 4 year old players from the Shetland division to their own division.  This keeps Shetland to a 2 year age group as the other age groups are.  It also keeps 3 and 4 year olds from participating in Pinto when a league uses the "And Under" program and lets players play up one age group.  Foal began being used in the 2020 season.


What about PONY Softball?

While girls are permitted to play in any of the PONY Baseball leagues, recognizing that most girls preferred to compete in leagues with other girls, PONY Baseball provided Softball for Girls leagues in 1976.  While PONY Baseball has both a “traditional” 2 year age grouping AND “And Under” programs available PONY Girls Softball only uses the “And Under” concept.  Differing from the “And Under” concept that PONY Baseball adopted in 2009 which limits players “playing up” one age group, PONY Softball’s implementation of the “And Under” concept allows players to play up multiple age groups.


What exactly are the age group ranges?

PONY Baseball and Softball has 7 regular and 2 specialized age groupings for teams.  While the minimum age for these varies slightly from the PONY Traditional Baseball, PONY “And Under” Baseball and PONY Girls Softball, the maximum ages are the same.  The specialized age groups are Bronco-11 and Pony-13, both of which were created to give players of age 11 and 13 more chances to play tournament baseball.  Several areas of the country may also hold specialized age groups events for Pinto-7, Mustang-9 and Colt-15, but Bronco-11 and Pony-13 are the only two that have tournament structures that lead to a World Series event.


LeagueBaseball AgesSoftball Ages
Foal4 to 34 to 3
Shetland6 to 56 to 3
Pinto8 to 58 to 3
Mustang-99 to 7N/A
Mustang10 to 710 to 3
Bronco-1111 to 9N/A
Bronco12 to 912 to 3
Pony-1313 to 11N/A
Pony14 to 1114 to 3
Colt16 to 1316 to 3
Palomino18 to 1518 to 3
Thorobred23 to 1723 to 3
Champions23 to 323 to 3