Chicago Little League Team Accused of Alleged Residency Violations
Chicago's Jackie Robinson West Little League squad, which won the U.S. championship at the Little League World Series this past summer, is being accused of alleged violations of Little League residency rules, according to multiple reports.
The rival Evergreen Park Athletic Association, which is based out of Evergreen Park, Illinois, sent a letter to Little League International, asking it to investigate whether certain players on the Jackie Robinson West squad were ineligible because they lived outside the team's established boundaries. In an email to the Little League organization, Evergreen Park's vice president, Chris Janes, accused Jackie Robinson West of "manipulating, bending and blatantly breaking the rules for the sole purpose of winning at all costs," per DNAInfo.com's Mark Konkol.
The coach of the Jackie Robinson West squad, Darold Butler, denied any allegations of impropriety to Konkol.
"Nothing was done that should not have been done," he said. "The thing is until anyone really sits down and reads Little League's rules ... it doesn't make sense to entertain questions. It sounds like they don't have a clue. It sounds like there's a little hate going on and that comes with the territory.'
According to CBS Chicago's Mike Krauser, Janes accused at least three Jackie Robinson West players of being ineligible because they lived in the suburbs, outside of the team's assigned boundaries. He told Krauser that if the squad is found to have broken any rules, it should be forced to forfeit its U.S. championship.
"If the team's comprised of players that shouldn't have been on there in the first place, then absolutely," he said. "Little League has very specific rules. Those rules need to be followed. If they're not, there's consequences, and Little League outlines those in their rules. If Jackie Robinson broke these rules, they need to be held accountable."
Little League International's senior vice president of operations, Pat Wilson, said Tuesday that the organization had already investigated the complaints and found no merit to them, per Brian Slodysko of the Chicago Sun-Times.
"The team provided documentation to support the residency in accordance with Little League rules," Wilson said. "We reviewed that documentation multiple times and that documentation meets Little League's criteria for residence as outlined in our rule books, and that's basically it."
The team drew significant attention in the Chicago area, with Chicago Magazine naming the Little Leaguers the "Chicagoans of the Year" in December. As Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reported back in October, the Jackie Robinson West squad joined Sports Illustrated cover girl Mo'ne Davis at Game 4 of the World Series, where Mo'ne threw out the first pitch.
Though Little League appears to have investigated the allegations to its satisfaction, Janes still isn't convinced, per Slodysko. This story could continue bubbling under the surface for a while, it seems.
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