Little League Strips Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Team Of All 2014 World Series Wins
In a surprising story, Little League Baseball has decided to strip the Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West of all their accomplishments from the 2014 Little League World Series.
In last year’s tournament, this Illinois ball club won the Great Lakes Regional to enter the nationally televised event. Then after being destroyed in the second round by Nevada, they proceeded to tear through the loser’s bracket for a rematch with the United States’ Little League title on the line. They of course won, but failed to beat South Korea in the World Championship game.
But according to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, the now-famous team from Chicago achieved all of this by cheating: essentially, coach Darold Butler, Illinois’ District 4 administrator Michael Kelly and other team officials re-drew the district boundary lines. The adults first falsified the boundary map and then collected the best of the best — basically creating a team filled with all-stars.
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As a result, Jackie Robinson West has been stripped of all their titles — the U.S. title has been awarded to Mountain Ridge Little League aka the Nevada runner up. On top of this, Darold Butler has been suspended and Kelly has been removed from office. In a statement from Little League International president/CEO Stephen D. Keener, he was disappointed by these necessary harsh steps.
“Quite honestly, we had to do this. We had no choice. We had to maintain the integrity of the Little League program… The real troubling part of this is that we feel horribly for the kids who are involved with this. Certainly, no one should cast any blame, any aspersions on the children who participated on this team. To the best of our knowledge, they had no knowledge that they were doing anything wrong. They were just kids out playing baseball, which is the way it should be. They were celebrated for that by many, many organizations, many people. What we’re most concerned about today is that it’s going to be hard on these kids. And that’s the part that breaks your heart.”
It also appears that these allegations were not discovered until January, but officials failed to report these findings to Little League International. “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… 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.”
This is only the third time in Little League Baseball’s history that a team has to forfeit all of their wins: the first happened in 1992 when the International title was stripped from Zamboanga, Philippines, for using out of district and overage players and the second happened in 2001 when the third place Bronx team had to vacate all of their titles due to the overage pitching sensation Danny Almonte.
This is a sad outcome for truly an inspiring story: the Jackie Robinson West became a sensation over the last year. For coming from Chicago’s south side — a section stricken with poverty and violence — and rising to the height this team did, it is a horrible result that nobody wanted to see happen.
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