Babe Ruth League History

History of the Babe Ruth Program

Babe Ruth League, Inc., a non-profit, educational organization, named after one of the greatest baseball players of all time – George Herman “Babe” Ruth – has come a long way since its modest start over 60 years ago.

In 1951, ten men, who believed that the future of their community depended upon the proper development of the young people, met at the historic Yardville Hotel in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, for the purpose of developing a baseball program for young men between 13 and 15 years of age. Babe Ruth League, Inc. recognizes Marius D. Bonacci as the Founding Father of the program, along with the contribution of the following nine men, Samuel M. Welch, Ferdinand J. Wagner, Ed Jones, Ted Jasek, Cliff Fovour, Boots Snyder, William Dombrowski, Maskill Paxson and Willard Carson, Jr.

Babe Ruth Baseball has increased steadily from its first 10-team league in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, to its present combined size of well over one million players on some 60,000+ teams in more than 11,000 leagues and over 1.9 million volunteers. The divisions: Cal Ripken Baseball (for ages 4-12), Babe Ruth Baseball 13-18, Babe Ruth Softball, Bambino Buddy Ball and Xtreme Fastpitch are successful due to the millions of volunteer hours spent every year. Every volunteer from the local league manager to the chairman of the 17-member International Board is dedicated to the betterment of youth, while at the same time, producing better baseball and softball players.

A 16-member full-time staff, assisted by seasonal employees, maintains Babe Ruth’s International Headquarters at 1770 Brunswick Pike in the suburban community of Lawrence Township, New Jersey.

Local leagues are independent within the guidelines provided by Babe Ruth League, Inc. and operate with simplicity and autonomy. The Babe Ruth International Board is the governing body while Babe Ruth League International Headquarters is the administrative and promotional center.

It is the 13-15 division, started in 1951, where the boys first got their feet wet for the first time on a regulation size baseball diamond. The next stop up the baseball ladder for young athletes was the Babe Ruth 16-18 division, born in 1966 with continued remarkable success.

In 1974, the 13-Year-Old Prep League was added. The Prep League allows 13-year-old players to make the transition to the regulation size diamond, while competing with peers their own age.

In 1982, Babe Ruth Baseball added yet another division to its program, the Bambino division for players ages 4-12. July 6, 1999 was the beginning of a new era for Babe Ruth League, Inc. The Bambino Division was renamed “Cal Ripken Baseball, a Division of Babe Ruth League, Inc.” Cal Ripken, Jr.’s visions and philosophies, molded by his father, Cal Ripken, Sr., directly parallel those of Babe Ruth League, Inc. Now, two of the most prolific legends and heroes in baseball, inspire in our youth participants their knowledge, spirit and pure passion for the game.

In 1984, Babe Ruth League, Inc. added another dimension to its program — Babe Ruth Softball. The Softball Division encompasses players 4 to 18 years of age. The program was organized because Babe Ruth League, Inc. saw a need for a quality national softball program. The softball program was designed to focus on all ability levels of young female athletes, providing them with the same enriching athletic experience as the baseball divisions.

In 2000 the Buddy-Ball Division for players ages 5-20 who are physically and/or mentally challenged was renamed the Bambino BuddyBall Division. A “buddy” helps the player swing a bat, round the bases, catch a ball.

2013 saw the addition of Xtreme Fastpitch to accommodate all softball participants—those who wish to play on a recreational level to those who seek a higher degree of competition to hone their skills with the goal of continuing play into high school and beyond.

Babe Ruth League, Inc. offers an unparalleled, prestigious tournament trail for its participants. A tournament team from each chartered local league enters its district tournament. District winners advance to statewide competition, with the successful team qualifying for one of eight regional tournaments. The eight regional champions from across the United States and Canada compete in each World Series. Babe Ruth League, Inc. has grown from its inaugural 13-15 World Series in 1952, to seven baseball and two softball World Series - the Cal Ripken 10-Year- Old, Cal Ripken Major/60, Cal Ripken Major/70, 13-Year-Old, 14-YearOld, 13-15, 16-18, Softball 12U and Softball 16U World Series.

Xtreme Fastpitch teams have the opportunity to participate in tournaments from September 1st through the National Championships, held at the end of the season.

The Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series features 10 participating World Series teams from the United States and six international teams to determine a true “World Champion. This World Series is played at the Ripken Complex/Youth Academy in Aberdeen, Maryland.

The Babe Ruth League, Inc. programs above all, are of, by and for youth. Its mission is to make better citizens through proper supervision of regulation competitive baseball and softball in addition to promoting mental and physical development. In adopting rules, in establishing standards and in all planning, the primary consideration is what is best for the participants.

Babe Ruth League, Inc. would make the baseball immortal for whom the program is named very proud. Youth always had a special place reserved in “The Babe’s” heart.


Babe Ruth Baseball founded in New Jersey for 13, 14 and 15 Year-Old players

First World Series for the 13-15 Year-Old Division held in Trenton, New Jersey

First World Series held outside of the United States in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Institution of Host Family program at World Series competition

Babe Ruth 16-18 Year-Old Division formed

First World Series for the 16-18 Year-Old Division held in Morristown, New Jersey

Babe Ruth Prep League for 13 Year-Old players formed

First World Series for the 13 Year-Old Prep Division held in Jamestown, New York

Bambino Division for players ages 5-12 formed

National Umpires Association founded

First World Series for the Bambino Division (5-12) held in Shelbyville, Indiana

Babe Ruth Softball Division for girls ages 5-18 formed

Babe Ruth World Series Training Center opened in Jamestown, New York

Rookie League became part of the Bambino Division

Babe Ruth Baseball offered summer baseball camp in Princeton, New Jersey

Carl Yastrzemski, a Babe Ruth alumnus, inducted into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame

Joe Morgan, a Babe Ruth alumnus, inducted into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame

Jim Palmer, a Babe Ruth alumnus, inducted into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame

Rod Carew, a Babe Ruth alumnus, inducted into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame

First World Series for the 16 Year-Old Division held in Carmel, Indiana

Babe Ruth League opened an office in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

First World Series for the 14 Year-Old Division held in Clifton Park, New York

First World Series for the 12 & Under Softball Division held in Jamestown, New York

First World Series for the 16 & Under Softball Division held in Dare County, North Carolina

George Brett, a Babe Ruth alumnus, inducted into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame

Nolan Ryan, a Babe Ruth alumnus, inducted into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame

Little Sister program established as part of each Softball World Series

Bambino Division renamed Cal Ripken Baseball, a Division of Babe Ruth League

50th Anniversary of Babe Ruth League, Inc.

First World Series for the Cal Ripken 10-Year Old Division held in Vincennes, Indiana

Babe Ruth teams participate in “T-Ball on the South Lawn” at the White House; President George W. Bush initiated the program and appointed Cal Ripken Jr. as T-Ball Commissioner

Babe Ruth League was bequeathed a 28 acre complex in Newark, Ohio by lifetime volunteer Don Edwards

Babe Ruth League opened an office in Newark, Ohio

Steven M. Tellefsen elected as President/CEO of Babe Ruth League

Cal Ripken Jr. inducted into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame

First World Series for the Cal Ripken Major 70’ Division held in Aberdeen, Maryland

James Waggoner elected Babe Ruth League Chairman of the Board

Jim Rice, a Babe Ruth alumnus, inducted into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame

Babe Ruth League establishes alumni association

Babe Ruth League establishes the Xtreme Softball program

Babe Ruth League purchased and moved into their new headquarters building in Hamilton, New Jersey