Jackie Robinson West, the United States champion at the 2014 Little League World Series, agreed to vacate its title after knowingly violating residency rules, Little League announced Wednesday.
Mountain Ridge Little League and its team from Las Vegas was awarded the 2014 U.S. Little League World Series Championship. Las Vegas officials had said that Jackie Robinson West should be stripped of its title.
Jackie Robinson West's manager, Darold Butler, was suspended from Little League activity, and Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly was removed from his position.
Little League Baseball opened an investigation to determine if the Chicago-based team used players that resided outside of the geographic area that it represents. An investigation showed that the team used an inaccurate boundary map and met with outside neighborhoods and districts in Illinois to recruit players to build a competitive team.
Little League Baseball said it was alerted of a potential problem back in September when a league official from a neighboring district in Illinois expressed concern about residency problems with Jackie Robinson West players in District 4.
"For more than 75 years, Little League has been an organization where fair play is valued over the importance of wins and losses," Little League International CEO Stephen D. Keener said in a statement. "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."
Kaiser said the decision to strip Jackie Robinson West of its title “was necessary to maintain the integrity of the Little League program.”
Jackie Robinson West became the first all-African-American squad to win the U.S. title, beating Las Vegas before losing the international championship against South Korea.
- Scooby Axson