Should the History-Making Little League Title Be Revoked?

February 11, 2015  |  
Photo: Whitehouse.gov Blog

 

For Black boys who have considered baseball when the rainbow is enough, was the first thought remembering the sentiments of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls upon seeing that the Little League Baseball has stripped the first all African-American Chicago team of their U.S. Championship.

You may remember the photos, pride and celebration across the states, especially Chicago and even the White House as the little league team, Jackie Robison West, made its way to receive personal congrats from President Barack Obama himself. So, why after such parading in pride is the Little League taking away the history these young boys made? The coach apparently used boys who lived outside of the geographic area that the team represents reported ESPN.

Jackie Robinson West  must vacate wins from the 2014 Little League Baseball International Tournament — including its Great Lakes Regional and United States championships.

The Jackie Robinson West Little League team was ruled to have used players from outside its local area by recruiting players from neighboring districts. The team’s manager, Darold Butler, has been suspended from Little League activity, and Illinois District 4 administrator Michael Kelly has been removed from his position.

The organization found that Jackie Robinson West 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.

Certainly, most of us would hope there was another way around it – possibly discipline the adults involved, but somehow let the kids keep their win as they were not behind the construction and manipulation of rezoning. When discussing the news with a parent of a teen boy from Chicago she mentioned kids in the area are already up against so much, “All they know is lose and take and handy-down books. Winning – history making – is new and my son was proud like he was one on the team members.”

In the conversation the idea of rezoning kept resurfacing as she murmured the idea that states and the government has used rezoning to win elections and do much more. Two wrongs do not make a right, but there is a grim unfortunate feeling.

However, Little League International president and CEO Stephen D. Keener told ESPN that it was not an easy decision to make.

“We had no choice. We had to maintain the integrity of the Little League program. … As painful as this is, it’s a necessary outcome from what we finally have been able to confirm.”

Many that I’ve spoken to felt that statement “finally able to confirm” meant that the League had been searching, digging for a reason to possibly revoke the title and suspected foul play. As much as it may have been “protocol,” the question does linger of why couldn’t an All-Black, history-making team won this and no questions be asked on how. As much as most will wish away the revoking, the coaches should be held accountable, right?

“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,” said Keener.

This is not the first time the Little League has had to make such a move in their 75-year history. In 2002, the Little League investigated the Harlem Little League team, who won the Mid-Atlantic Regional and went on to the World Series used played from out of their community. The charges were found to be false as the Harlem League showed documents proving their residency.

 In 1992, Little League took away the title from Zamboanga, Philippines, and handed it to Long Beach, California, after Zamboanga used several players that lived outside its district or were overage. In 2001, a team from the Bronx that finished third was forced to forfeit its games after pitcher Danny Almonte was revealed to be overage.

 

For more of the Little League’s history and decision, head over to ESPN.

What do you think MommyNoire? Should this be handled differently?

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