Little League International filed court documents last week stating that the Jackie Robinson West baseball team was stripped of its 2014 Little League World Series title because the team participated in “fraud and cover-up,” the Associated Press reports.
In January, Little League vacated Jackie Robinson West's title after determining that the team had “knowingly violated” league residency rules. A Little League investigation found that team officials had recruited players outside the team's district, falsified boundary maps to create the appearance that their players lived within the district and met with officials from neighboring leagues after the championship “to attempt to persuade them to retroactively agree to boundary changes” to ensure players would not be declared ineligible, the court documents stated.
In March, the team's district, Illinois District 4, was disbanded altogether.
In June, the team filed a lawsuit against Little League seeking a documented explanation for the league's action in enacting punishment. The documents filed by the league last week were the response to that lawsuit.
By filing the lawsuit, the team's attorney, Victor Henderson, had sought to prove that the team was unfairly scrutinized because all of its players are black, though he admitted he believed some players indeed lived outside district boundaries.
Following the league's response last week, Jackie Robinson West filed a petition to withdraw its lawsuit, an action Little League spokesman Brian McClintock said, “speaks for itself.”
“To repeat, discipline was imposed because JRW officials falsified the JRW boundary maps, and therefore used ineligible players,” Little League said, according to Fox Sports.
Henderson made a statement on Tuesday after the documents were released saying legal disputes, like baseball games, are not encompassed by a single inning. “The game is far from over,” he said, though he confirmed the original lawsuit had been withdrawn.
Last year, Jackie Robinson West became the first team with only African-American players to win the U.S. title, beating Las Vegas before losing the Little League World Series championship to South Korea.
- Erin Flynn