Danny Almonte, a former Little League pitcher who was the focus of a Little League age-limit scandal in 2001, says that Chicago's Jackie Robinson West should not be stripped of its U.S. title for knowingly violating Little League’s residency rules.
Little League determined that Jackie Robinson West officials used an inaccurate boundary map and met with outside neighborhoods and districts in Illinois to recruit players in order to build a competitive team.
The team forfeited its championship, which was handed to Las Vegas, the team it defeated for the title. Jackie Robinson West lost the international championship against South Korea.
"Everybody [does] the same thing," Almonte told DNAinfo Chicago. "Everybody [takes] guys from different [places]."
Almonte’s Bronx team forfeited victories in 2001 when it was found that Almonte was above the age limit to compete.
"When I used to play, my father and the coach and the other coaches at that time, I know they messed up, but it wasn't my fault. And it's not those kids' [JRW] fault either," Almonte added. "That's not fair to them. That's not fair for the whole Chicago city. I know you are proud of that team."
Almonte, now 27, says that race played a part in Jackie Robinson West losing its title.
"Those African-American kids did good, and they want to take that away from them. I don't think that's fair," Almonte said. "I don't want to sound racist, but it's always something against Latin or African-American teams."
- Scooby Axson