Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Little League Baseball strips all African-American Chicago team of 2014 U.S. title


Little League Baseball announced on Wednesday that it has stripped the 2014 U.S. championship from the Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West team. The team was the first all African-American team to win the championship.

"After an extensive review of the operations of Jackie Robinson West Little League and Illinois District 4, the Little League International Charter/Tournament Committee has determined that the Jackie Robinson West Little League and Illinois District 4 Administrator knowingly violated Little League International Rules and Regulations by placing players on their team who did not qualify to play because they lived outside the team’s boundaries.

"The Charter/Tournament Committee has decided to vacate the league’s wins from the 2014 Little League Baseball® International Tournament, including its Great Lakes Regional and United States Championships, and suspend team manager, Darold Butler, from Little League activity. Illinois District 4 Administrator, Michael Kelly, has also been removed from his position. Jackie Robinson West Little League has been placed on probation with its tournament privileges suspended until such a time that new leadership in the positions of President, Anne Haley, and Treasurer, Bill Haley, have been elected or appointed, and that the league is fully compliant with all Little League International Regulations.

"Little League International found that Jackie Robinson West Little League used a falsified boundary map for their 2014 tournament, and that Jackie Robinson West Little League officials met with other leagues in Illinois District 4 to try to get the territory they wrongfully claimed was theirs for their 2014 tournament," Little League Baseball said in a statement.

The 2014 championships vacated by Jackie Robinson West Little League will be given to the other finalists in those games, with Mountain Ridge Little League (Las Vegas, Nev.) handed the 2014 United States Little League Baseball World Series Championship; New Albany (Ind.) Little League handed the 2014 Great Lakes Regional Little League Baseball Championship; Tri-Cities Little League (West Dundee, Ill.) given the 2014 Illinois State Little League Baseball Championship; Lansing (Ill.) Little League handed the 2014 Illinois Section 3 Little League Baseball Championship; and Rosemoor Little League (Chicago) given the 2014 Illinois District 4 Little League Baseball Championship.

“For more than 75 years, Little League has been an organization where fair play is valued over the importance of wins and losses. This is a heartbreaking decision. What these players accomplished on the field and the memories and lessons they have learned during the Little League World Series tournament is something the kids can be proud of, but it is unfortunate that the actions of adults have led to this outcome.

"As our Little League operations staff learned of the many issues and actions that occurred over the course of 2014 and prior, as painful as this is, we feel it a necessary decision to maintain the integrity of the Little League program. No team can be allowed to attempt to strengthen its team by putting players on their roster that live outside their boundaries.

“Little League takes these matters very seriously and has spent countless hours gathering information about the many issues facing Jackie Robinson West Little League and Illinois District 4. During our review, it became clear that both Jackie Robinson West officials and District Administrator, Mike Kelly signed documents to make players eligible who should not have been.”

“Little League is committed to helping all of our volunteers in more than 80 countries provide positive baseball and softball experiences for children in more than 7,000 communities. As there are many issues to resolve within Illinois District 4, our operations staff is committed to working with local volunteers to ensure that all the leagues in the district are operated fairly and under full compliance of Little League International’s rules and regulations and that the children in the Chicago area have a meaningful Little League experience in 2015 and beyond," Stephen D. Keener, Little League International President and CEO, said.

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