Remember how excited everybody was when the Jackie Robinson West Little League Baseball team was the FIRST African American team to win the U.S. Championship? Well, it looks like that celebration has come to an unexpected end, right in time for Black History Month. The championship has now been awarded to Las Vegas’ Mountain Ridge Little League Team.
According to a report from ESPN, The Chicago-based team was recently stripped of the winning title. The team must vacate wins from the 2014 Little League Baseball International Tournament. That includes its Great Lakes Regional and United States championships. Darold Butler, the team’s manager has also been suspended.
This news comes after the Little League Baseball organization concluded that Darold and several others, falsified a boundary map, using players from neighboring districts to create their team.
In a statement, Little League International CEO, Stephen D. Keener says the decision was a tough one.
“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.”
Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly is also being held responsible for the incident. Apparently, he is the guy that is responsible for verifying player eligibility. He has since been removed from his position. Keener says Kelly signed documents that he shouldn’t have.
“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.”
This is heartbreaking news for me. As a former softball player, I was proud to these young guys win. Sadly, these children will suffer due to the actions of several adults. FORTUNATELY, these are good kids who have been praised not only for their athletic ability, but for their good sportsmanship. They’re futures are bright! These boys have even been honored by President Obama at the White House. Not many people can say that! This is simply a minor setback to prepare for a major comeback. To the Jackie Robinson West Little League Baseball Team: I’m still proud of you! You still matter!