The Mifflin County Babe Ruth League is one of the top leagues in the state and maybe one of the best in Mid-Atlantic region.
The Royal Blue and White are known throughout the state and the accomplishments are one that the area can be proud of: Two trips to the Babe Ruth World Series and two top-10 finishes in the country, five teams that reached the final game of a Mid-Atlantic region in the last 10 years, numerous state records including most state titles and the most appearances in a state finals, and 15 men inducted into the Pennsylvania Babe Ruth Hall of Fame.
It is the only known Babe Ruth league in the state - and for that matter the country - that has published media guides. The league has been the foundation for Lewistown, Indian Valley and now Midd-West high school varsity programs and the Mifflin County American Legion team.
Needless to say, it has been one of the most organized and progressive Babe Ruth leagues in Pennsylvania.
Except in one department, that is: Tie games during the regular season.
The Babe Ruth rule book entry on ties reads:
"To interpret Official Baseball Rule 4.10 (d), in case of a 'tie game' the results are entered into league records as a 'tie game' and are so indicated in league standings. After the regular season is concluded, if the tie game affects the league standing of either team involved, the game is replayed as a new game. Pitching eligibility for the replay is determined according to the calendar week in which the game is played. This applies to local league play only. Local leagues have the option to replay tie games as they occur."
The Mifflin County league has gone by that rule for years. And. in fact, it was a good rule back in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. For years, Mifflin County only played a 14- to 16-game regular season schedule. What it did was give teams a chance to play an extra game.
But that all changed in the 1970s. It was in 1977 that Mifflin County went to a 21-game schedule and it has been getting bigger ever since. First it went to 24 and then to 25 and finally to 27. When you put in the Bob Reigle Memorial Tournament, some teams play up to 30 games a year.
Tie games now have become burdens on backed up schedules. Just ask the Burnham team this spring - it already has been involved in two ties and the games have to be replayed in their entirety. Burnham has played only six games (5-1), and needs to play 21 more games in the next six weeks.
Gary Stimely, the longtime Mifflin County Babe Ruth League president, spoke about the rule earlier this week.
"It has come up from time to time to change it (the rule) from playing the game over, to doing it another way (continuing the game when the two teams play again). It (the rule) has never gotten off the table. It has never even been seconded. Obviously, we will talk about it this winter again, but we are not going to change it in the middle of the year," he said.
Tie games are never fun. Everybody involved - the players, the coaches, the fans - all want an outcome.
It's now up to the Mifflin County league to find a solution that won't tie up the league in future seasons.