Little League Baseball has stripped the 2014 U.S. championship away from the Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West for using players outside their permitted area.
Little League international president and CEO, Stephen D. Keener announced Wednesday that the team must also vacate all of its wins for redrawing the little league’s boundaries in order to use kids from other suburbs and districts without the permission of any representatives.
“This is a heartbreaking decision,” Keener said. “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.”
Jackie Robinson Little League drew much attention for their playing ability and passion for the game. They became the first all-African American team to win the US Championship, before losing the World Series to Seoul, South Korea.
"As painful as this is, we feel it a necessary decision to maintain the integrity of the Little League program," Keener added. "No team can be allowed to attempt to strengthen its team by putting players on their roster that live outside their boundaries."
As a result, Jackie Robinson West’s coach Darold Butler has been suspended indefinitely from Little League activity and the US championship has been now awarded to the U.S. runner up, Mountain Ridge Little League from Las Vegas.
"For us, it's not about getting the title," Kristi Black, former president of the Mountain Ridge Little League, said. "It's about preserving the integrity of the Little League World Series. I spoke with a couple of our kids this morning, and they're excited but they feel terrible for the kids on Chicago team. Our kids have moved on. They're just of the mind that when rules are broken, that's not acceptable."
This is the third time Little League has had to strip away a championship from a team. Zamboaga, Philippines had their stripped in 1992 for using players outside their district and overage kids. In 2001, the infamous Danny Almonte team that won third place, was stripped of all of their wins after Almonte was found to be overage.