Little League team stripped of U.S. title
Little League made the announcement this morning, adding that the team must vacate all its wins from the 2014 Baseball International Tournament, including the Great Lakes Regional and United States championships, according to ESPN.Team manager Darold Butler has been suspended from the organization, and Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly has been removed from his position.
The organization found that the Jackie Robinson team used a falsified boundary map, and that team officials met with neighboring Little League districts in Illinois to claim players and build what amounts to a superteam.
As a result, the United States championship has been awarded to Mountain Ridge Little League from Las Vegas.
“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.
“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.”
Jackie Robinson West became the first all-African-American team to win the championship, and its run to the international final — where it lost to Seoul, South Korea — captivated the city of Chicago. It set TV ratings records, Chicago’s pro teams paid tribute and the young players even visited the White House.
The U.S. title will be awarded to Las Vegas, which lost to Jackie Robinson West in the championship game.
Little League’s statement on the decision can be found here.