Chicago Little League team stripped of national title

February 11, 2015 - 4:39 am

Chicago-based Little League team Jackie Robinson West has been stripped of its U.S. championship for using players from outside its district. In addition to the team, which was the first all-African-American team to win the championship, having to vacate its wins from the 2014 Little League Baseball International Tournament, manager Darold Butler was suspended from Little League activity and Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly was "removed from his position." Kelly's job was to "verify player eligibility based on player information that is gathered and signed by the league president, player agent and team manager." "For more than 75 years, Little League has been an organization where fair play is valued over the importance of wins and losses," Little League International CEO Stephen D. Keener said in a statement. "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." The team had used a "falsified boundary map" and "met with neighboring Little League districts in Illinois to claim players and build what amounts to a superteam." Local league officials said that they knew Jackie Robinson West was violating League rules but never reported it to Little League International, the national organization said. The officials also didn't acknowledge that they were aware until January. "Unfortunately, no allegations against Jackie Robinson West Little League were made until well after the tournament ended, contributing to the difficulty of resolving these many complex issues," Keener said. "As an organization, Little League has faced issues similar to this in the past, and we felt that we must take the appropriate action set by that precedent." Jackie Robinson West's title has been given to Mountain Ridge Little League, based in Las Vegas. The Chicago team had won the U.S. championship before losing to Seoul, South Korea, in the tournament's title game.