FAQs for House (“Rec”) Baseball
Q. What is the
mission or general philosophy of Damascus House Baseball?
Damascus Baseball shares the overall goal of its parent
organization, the Damascus Sports Association (DSA), which “is dedicated to
developing the youth of our community through fitness, sportsmanship and
teamwork.” Our House program is designed to develop young players (ages 8 and
younger) to develop the basic skills needed to play baseball at any level
(including “travel” baseball beginning at age 8) and to allow older players
(ages 9 through 15) an opportunity to play organized baseball at a “recreational
Q. Is there a difference
between “House” and “Rec” baseball?
The terms “House” and “rec” are essentially synonymous, when
referring to DSA baseball. Damascus baseball has been providing players an
opportunity to play organized baseball since DSA formed. Early in the history of
the program, Damascus High School was one of the larger high schools in the
county, and large numbers of younger siblings participated in DABL (Damascus
Area Baseball League) or DASL (Damascus Area Baseball League). In those days, 800
to 1200 baseball players would participate each spring, allowing DABL to form
enough teams at each age level that there was no need for interleague play. Such
teams were referred to as “In-House” teams to distinguish them from “travel”
teams (who purposely sought out opportunities to play other travel teams outside
the local area). Over the last 20 years, the Montgomery County School System has
added schools to meet the demand of the growing “up county” community. The opening
of Clarksburg High School significantly reduced enrollment at DHS, and the subsequent
establishment of Clarksburg-based youth sports programs led to a reduction in
demand to play DSA baseball. Damascus “House” baseball has become a stable fixture
of fall and spring sports in the Damascus area, but interleague play (typically
with Clarksburg, Urbana, and LOUYAA Baseball) is now the norm. House baseball
has always been a recreational baseball program, providing opportunities for
players with little or no experience with baseball to join a team and gain a first-hand
appreciation for the “National Pastime.”
Q. How much does it cost
to play House Baseball?
The DSA Board approves the programs budget each year, and so
increases to the fees are considered from time to time. At the time of this
writing, fees ranged from $65 (tee ball) to $160 per player (player pitch) for
the season (not including any outstanding DSA Membership dues, which is $40 per
family per year). For a fee schedule for the current season, visit House-Baseball.
Q. Why are some age
divisions more expensive than others?
There are a variety of factors that drive the cost of
providing baseball to various age groups. The developmental divisions (Teeball,
Coach Pitch and Machine Pitch) don’t employ umpires, hence all three are less
expensive than player-pitch divisions. Machine pitch requires significant investment
in the purchase and upkeep of pitching machines, hence machine pitch fees are
higher than the other two developmental divisions. Teeball fees are slightly
lower than Coach Pitch fees, in part as an enticement for younger players to
explore the world of DSA sports.
Q. Should my daughter
play baseball or softball?
Damascus baseball is open to boys or girls ages 4 and up.
While many female players switch to girls softball at age 6 or 7, tee ball and
coach pitch are fully coed and are designed to support player development regardless
of whether they eventually play baseball or softball.
Q. When does practice
The vast majority of Damascus Baseball teams practice and
play home games on fields permitted by Montgomery County, through the Office of
the Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF). This includes school fields (e.g.,
Baker Middle School) as well as local park and recreation fields (e.g., Sundown
Local Park or the Damascus Recreation Center). These permits go into effect
March 15 of each calendar year. Thus, formal Damascus baseball practices begin
on or just after that date. NOTE: Using a field when its closed or without a
valid permit is expressly forbidden by CUPF and can lead to the cancellation of
permits for the season by sport or the entire program.
Q. When are games
Most games are played on Wednesdays (machine pitch and up)
and Saturdays (all divisions). Games typically begin the first Saturday in
April and the end when schools close for the summer. Weeknight games start
around 5:30, Saturday games may be played anytime between 9:00 a.m. and dark.
Q. What does DSA
provide each player or team?
Damascus Baseball provides each team with practice and game
fields, uniform jerseys and hats, and equipment needed for practice and game
play (including first aid kits, catchers gear, and balls). Most coaches are
given the option of taking one or more helmets and bats for team use, however,
sharing equipment has fallen out of favor recently, and most players own their
own helmet and bat. If you are new to baseball, get some advice about proper
sizing of gloves and bats before you buy. Using older brother’s bat or glove
may be problematic if they are too large. Poor mechanics developed at a young
age as a player tries to adapt to poorly fitted equipment are often hard to change
when the player gets older, and more serious about the game.
Q. What do I need to
buy for my player?
All players must provide their own glove, pants, and cleats.
As mentioned above, most players also choose to own their own helmet and bat.
Those items, along with a batting tee and other equipment make practice at home
more effective. Check Our website for notifications on deals on player
Q. How are coaches
Damascus Baseball recruits coaches for our recreational
teams for many weeks before registration opens. Depending on the number of
teams at any age group, coaches may be recruited until mid-March when practice
begins. Returning coaches are often re-appointed first, as we appreciate the
importance experience can bring. New coaches are chosen based on their
willingness to provide instruction to all players.
Q. How are teams
Tee Ball is intended for players ages 4 to 6 years of age,
with little or no experience in a team environment. In the spring, most games
are played against other Damascus Teams and are held in Damascus. Teams are
capped at a roster size of 10, but ideally should be no larger than 8. This
allows more focused attention by coaches at a time when few balls are hit into
Coach Pitch is intended for players ages 5 and 6 who have
either completed a season of tee ball of who can play catch and can hit a
thrown ball. In the spring, most games are played against other Damascus Teams
and are held in Damascus. Teams are capped at a roster size of 12, but ideally
should be no larger than 10.
Machine Pitch* is intended for players ages 7 and 8 who have
played at least one season of coach pitch. Damascus teams generally play
interleague with surrounding associations (e.g., Clarksburg). Teams are capped
at a roster size of 12, but ideally should be no larger than 11.
9 and 10 Player Pitch*, as the name suggests, is the
youngest division where players pitch to each other. Play is conducted on a 60
foot diamond, and there is no leading or stealing. Damascus teams generally
play interleague with surrounding associations (e.g., Clarksburg and Urbana). Teams
are capped at a roster size of 12.
11 and 12 Player Pitch*, is more advanced. Play is conducted
on a 70 foot diamond and leading and stealing is allowed. Damascus teams
generally play interleague with surrounding associations (e.g., Clarksburg and
Urbana). Teams are capped at a roster size of 12.
13 to 15 Player Pitch*, is the most advanced recreation
program offered by Damascus Baseball. Damascus teams play interleague with the
Rockville Baseball Association. Teams are capped at a roster size of 12.
Q. How do I request a
DSA Baseball does not consider requests to play for specific
coaches, because we think all our coaches are terrific! DSA Baseball will consider three criteria
when forming rec teams: 1) The Previous Coach. Returning players will be placed
with their most recent spring coach, unless the parent specifically requests
NOT to be placed with that coach in the Comment field of the registration form;
2) Their friends. Parents of players new to the program or division may make
requests to be placed on a team with another player, again using the Comment
field of the registration form, and 3) The Roster Size. There is an ideal size
for baseball teams at each level, and DSA Baseball won’t exceed that ideal
number simply to honor a request to be paired with another player. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee we will be
able to honor requests to be placed with friends and relatives (other than
siblings), but we will try our best!
*NOTE: More advanced players ages 8 and up may want to
consider DSA’s Select Baseball program. 2019 Spring Teams have already formed,
but tryouts for the fall select program will be held in August
Q. How does DSA
decide who we will play?
Damascus Baseball makes an effort to minimize travel time for
rec games, especially for younger players. Conversely, when Damascus has less
than five teams in given age division, we seek opportunities to play interleague
so teams aren’t forced to play the same team multiple times. Taken together,
this usually means we play interleague with Clarksburg in coach pitch and
machine pitch, then with Clarksburg, Urbana, and LOUYAA in the player pitch
divisions (rarely do we have more than 3 teams in any one player pitch
Q. Why can’t we
practice at a closer field?
Damascus Baseball holds permits on at least 15 fields each
season. Some fields (e.g., Damascus Recreational Park are game only fields). Other
fields are shared with nearby programs (Clarksburg or Olney), or other sports
(e.g., softball and lacrosse). As a consequence, we may only hold the permit
one or two days a week on some fields. Most teams do not want to practice
Sundays, and games take up fields on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Thus, there are
only 4 nights a week available to hold practices. Roll all those constraints up,
and we simply must make broader use of fields in the area, not just within
Q. Why did our practice
or game get cancelled?
As mentioned above, The Montgomery County Office of the
Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF) is permits to all fields used by
Damascus Baseball. This includes school fields (e.g., Baker Middle School) as
well as local park and recreation fields (e.g., Sundown Local Park or the
Damascus Recreation Center). The County is very protective of the fields, as
abuse by a few individuals can make the field unsafe for games. The fields are
particularly vulnerable when wet. Footprints, bike tracks, or tool marks made
in the wet, clay-rich infield dirt, can harden into significant divots that
create very bad hops. Smoothing out such fields requires machinery, which significantly
increases the upkeep costs. As a consequence, the County determines when a
field is not playable.
Using a field when its closed or without a valid permit is expressly
forbidden by CUPF and can lead to the cancellation of permits for the season by
sport or the entire program. Thus, anytime the County decides to close a field,
the practice or game scheduled on that field is canceled. Such closures are rarely
ever the decision of a coach or the program, although coaches have been
instructed not to hold practice or a game if the field is wet.
Q. Why did we have to
change fields or practice times?
During the season, House teams are guaranteed at least one
practice a week (unless fields are closed due to wet conditions). In March and
early April when teams are trying to prepare for the season, Damascus Baseball offers
coaches the options of adding a second practice. This opportunity arises because
fields normally used for games (Wednesdays and Saturdays) can now be made
available to teams for practice. Thus, field assignments are generally made in
two blocks, pre-season and in-season. Thus, its not uncommon for teams to
change practice locations, days, or times when the season begins in April.
Ideally, such changes are kept to a minimum, but there are so many moving
pieces (including changes to coach work schedules), that some changes are
inevitable. If you are concerned about the impact of a change, please discuss
the matter with your coach immediately.
Q. Our son/daughter
is better/bigger/older than other players his/her age, why can’t play with an
One of the biggest challenges with managing recreational
baseball is the considerable variability in ability and potential among
players. Recreational baseball, by definition, is open to all age eligible
players, regardless of their experience or skill. Consequently, it’s not
uncommon for recreational players of the same age to have very different skill
sets. Thus, Damascus Baseball shows some flexibility in assigning players based
on their apparent skill than simply base don there age. (NOTE: This is one of
the major differences between “rec” and “travel” baseball). There are two
factors that play a role in any decision about letting a player move to a
different age division (especially “playing up” with an older team). One factor
is the development of the player and the other is the development of the
players on the other team. A 4-year old that can play catch and hit a thrown
ball may seem too advanced for a tee ball team, but if he or she can’t follow
group instruction for 90 minutes, they may not be a good fit for coach pitch
team either. If allowing a player to “play up” adversely impacts other players,
then Damascus Baseball may decide not to approve such a request.
Q. My two daughters/sons
are a year apart, why can’t they be on the same team?
The age divisions used in recreational baseball in this area
create teams made up of players born within a two-year window. (Damascus House
Baseball uses May 31 as a cutoff date. This minimizes the difference between
the cutoff date for baseball and school, maximizing the potential for players
in the same grade to be eligible for the same age division, while minimizing
the difference in ages cut offs for our rec and travel programs, allowing for
smoother transition from one to the other. The national established cut off for
travel teams in May 1.) For example, Teeball is 4-6, Coach Pitch is 6-7,
Machine Pitch is 7-8, etc. Thus, siblings born a year apart often qualify for play
in the same age division. However, when the players don’t naturally fall into
the same division, one player would need to request permission to play up. As
discussed above, chronological age doesn’t always indicate the ability of a
player, and so each situation must be considered independently. If the older
team is already at its size cap, it is not in the interest of other players to create
a spot for a younger sibling. Overall, its in the best interest of players to
be slotted based on their ability than other factors.
We realize having multiple players on different teams can
create logistical challenges, and thus strongly recommend that parents support
each other through carpooling, etc. The sense of teamwork doesn’t need to stop
with the players or when everyone leaves the field.
Q. My daughters two
best friends play on another team, why can’t she play with them?
As discussed above, there is an optimum size for each team.
If all players named two friends they wanted to play with, filling rosters of a
reasonable size would become difficult, if not impossible. While we recognize
that players join teams in part for the social experience, we have found that
most players adapt to new faces fairly quickly. If they are busy learning and
playing baseball, they soon focus more on who their teammates are, rather that
who is not.
Q. Our practice time is
very inconvenient, why can’t we switch teams?
If the need is significant and slots are available with
another team, we will consider allowing players to change teams. Such requests
should start with the current head coach, and then be submitted to the Commissioner.
Q. I have heard great
things about Coach “X,” why can’t my son/daughter change teams?
As discussed above, DSA Baseball does not consider requests
to play for specific coaches, because we think all our coaches are
terrific! DSA Baseball will consider
three criteria when forming rec teams: 1) The Previous Coach. Returning players
will be placed with their most recent spring coach, unless the parent
specifically requests NOT to be placed with that coach in the Comment field of the
registration form; 2) Their friends. Parents of players new to the program or
division may make requests to be placed on a team with another player, again
using the Comment field of the registration form, and 3) The Roster Size. There
is an ideal size for baseball teams at each level, and DSA Baseball won’t
exceed that ideal number simply to honor a request to be paired with another
player. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee we will be able to honor requests to
be placed with friends and relatives (other than siblings in the same age division),
but we will try our best!
Q. What’s the
difference between House (“rec”) baseball and Select (“travel”) baseball?
Recreational baseball or “rec ball” is open to anyone who is
interested in playing organized baseball. There are no tryouts, and the cost
and level of time commitment are minimal. Teams generally practice a few times
prior to the beginning of the season and roughly once a week thereafter. Rec
baseball is great way for kids to experience team sports and learn the
fundamentals of America’s pastime. Damascus Baseball sets minimum levels of
playing time so players at any skill level can gain experience through game
play. (Because the emphasis at the recreation level is participation and
learning basic skill is a somewhat relaxed environment, “rec” programs in any
sport are not generally considered to be adequate preparation for competition
at the High School varsity-level. A set of FAQs for high school age players are
also available at high-school baseball.)
The terms “Select baseball” and “Travel baseball” are more
or less synonymous, as both require prospective players to tryout for teams in
a given age group. The term “Travel baseball” is derived from the fact that
teams often travel to regional or national tournaments, where they play teams
of similar age (there is a nationally recognized cutoff date for each age
division, which is May 1). Some Travel teams are what may be referred to as
“Tournament-only teams,” or for high school- or college-age players as
“Showcase teams,” which play exclusively in regional or even national
tournaments. Damascus Select teams generally play in local leagues as well as
in a few tournaments, which allows our players to experience a high level of
competition without having to travel every weekend. Select baseball usually
involves a much greater level of commitment, as one might expect given the very
competitive nature of baseball itself. DSA select teams practice indoors once
or twice a week in January and February and as many as three or four times a
week outside as soon as weather permits. During the season, which can last into
July for some teams, teams generally practice or play 4 or 5 times a week. In
addition, many players may also work with a hitting or pitching coach once or
more a week. Looking across various programs or teams in the region, it’s not
unusual for players to participate in clinics, take speed and agility training,
strength training, etc. As the cost of all these activities can be
considerable, parents may want to look for programs that offer professional
instruction and a variety of training activities as part of team activities.
This often allows the player the benefit of advanced and tailored training at a
more manageable cost. All DSA select teams are required to include some
component of professional instruction during the spring season. Unlike DSA rec
baseball, there are no DSA proscribed rules for playing time, playing time is
determined by the head coach based on a variety of factors including any
relevant league or tournament rules.
For more information about Damascus Select Baseball,
please review the FAQs