From its humble beginnings, PONY continues to grow with over 500,000 participants between the ages of 5 and 19 playing baseball and softball around the world.
PONY Baseball, Inc. is the corporate name under which Shetland League, Pinto League, Mustang League, Bronco League, Pony League, Colt League and Palomino League are operated in baseball and softball.
PONY Baseball and Softball began with the organization of the Pony League in Washington, PA in the summer of 1951. This was a transition league for 13 and 14 year-old players designed for the graduates of Little League baseball. The growth of Pony League, primarily by word of mouth, was rapid. By the end of the second season, 1952, the original six teams in Pennsylvania were joined by 505 others in 106 leagues across the country. A national tournament was conducted, and the first Pony League World Series was held that year.
Lew Hays, among the founders of the Pony League, was named Commissioner of the new league when it was incorporated for national organization in early 1953 and held that post until 1964 when he became president of PONY Baseball.
In 1953, John Laslo, long time mayor of Martin's Ferry, Ohio, visited with Hays and discussed organization of a league similar to Pony League for 15 and 16 year-old players. The purpose was to permit players in this age bracket to compete with players of like experience in their first years on the regulation diamond. Laslo guided the development of Colt League, and in late 1959, Pony League and Colt League 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. With Colt League using the regulation diamond with 90 foot basepaths, Pony League uses a diamond with 80 foot basepaths as a transition between the regulation diamond and the 70 foot diamond used in Bronco League.
In 1970 the Mustang League was developed in Fort Worth, TX, using a diamond with 60 foot basepaths, to provide an organizational structure in leagues for beginning players, 9 and 10 year-olds. For communities with players of 7 and 8 years of age, rules and emblems were developed for Pinto League, a very elementary form of baseball.
Thoroughbred 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 through 20 years of age who have not entered professional play and who retain a desire to participate in a community baseball program.
In 1977, Thoroughbred League age limits were expanded to include 21 year-old players, and Palomino League was organized for players 17 and 18. The Thoroughbred League was discontinued as a Pony program in 1984.
Shetland League, an instructional program 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.
PONY Baseball is the fastest growing youth baseball organization in the world today, and remains the largest youth baseball program in the Los Altos-Mountain View area.
And just in case you were still wondering, visit the PONY National web site and check out just some of the over 800 major league players that are graduates of PONY Baseball.