CHICAGO — Court documents filed by Little League International contend Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West baseball team was stripped of its national championship because of “fraud and cover-up.”
Little League filed the documents last week in response to a lawsuit by Jackie Robinson West seeking documentation for why the league took the action.
At the time the lawsuit was filed in June, Jackie Robinson West attorney Victor Henderson said he believed some of what Little League International claimed — that some of the players did not live within local league boundaries. But he added that he thought the team was unfairly singled out for scrutiny, in part, because all of its players are black.
The Little League court filings say that the original league boundary map submitted in May, when the team began tournament play, accurately reflected the league boundaries but showed only five of the team’s players lived within them. Maps submitted in September and December by Jackie Robinson West then showed that all players lived within the boundaries, according to the court documents.
“To repeat, discipline was imposed because JRW officials falsified the JRW boundary maps, and therefore used ineligible players,” Little League said, alleging “fraud and cover-up.”
In the court papers, Little League contends that as accusations of impropriety began to surface after the team’s title run, a district administrator and a team director met with officials from surrounding leagues “to attempt to persuade them to retroactively agree to boundary changes” so players would not be found ineligible.
Little League filed its paperwork Thursday, with Little League spokesman Brian McClintock saying the group received notice afterward by mail that Jackie Robinson West filed a petition to withdraw the lawsuit. McClintock said “the response speaks for itself, and we have no further comment.”
In a statement Tuesday, Henderson blasted Little League International for how it has acted, saying legal disputes, like baseball games, don’t take place in one inning. “The game is far from over,” he added, though he did confirm Tuesday that the team was withdrawing the suit.
Jackie Robinson West’s run to the championship started as an uplifting and inspirational story that ended with its win over Las Vegas to capture the national crown at the 2014 Little League World Series. The team fell to South Korea in the world championship game. When it was over, the players were treated to a massive parade downtown, a trip to the White House to meet President Barack Obama and another trip to San Francisco to watch the World Series.