CHICAGO (AP) — Hours after Little League International announced its stunning decision to strip a Chicago team of its national championship, the city’s mayor was on the phone asking the organization to reverse a decision that he said unfairly made the young players responsible.

But Little League International CEO Stephen D. Keener would not budge, telling Mayor Rahm Emanuel that as difficult as the decision was and as tough as it has been emotionally on the children and their families, the decision by the organization’s charter committee was final, according to the organization’s spokesman.

The organization announced Wednesday that Jackie Robinson West had been stripped of its title because team officials falsified boundaries so they could add ineligible players to the roster and that the officials then scrambled to persuade surrounding leagues to go along with what they’d done.

Little League International spokesman Brian McClintock would not detail the conversation between Keener and Emanuel. But the Chicago mayor’s office said that during the 10-minute call, first reported in the Chicago Sun-Times, Emanuel suggested alternative punishments could apply, including banning the league from playing for a certain period of time.

The decision has turned the young players into “perpetrators when they are victims,” Emanuel said, according to his office.

Though McClintock said the decision is final, in Chicago where the march of the all-black team from the city’s South Side was one of the most heartwarming stories in recent memory, angry community activists made it clear that the fight to give the boys back their championship at the Little League World Series is not over.

“We are asking a law group to look into this, to investigate, because we are hearing from folks all over the country that the (boundary) standards that Jackie Robinson West is being held to is not being held to by other teams across the United States,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a prominent activist and Catholic priest on the city’s South Side.

Jackie Robinson West officials, who Little League International either suspended or insisted not be allowed to remain in positions of authority, were expected to speak at a news conference at a downtown law firm scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday, parents of the players and others expressed outrage that such an inspirational championship was being taken from the team of boys aged from 11 to 13 years. And one after another, they said Little League International was punishing the boys for something they had no hand in. Little League International has stressed there is no evidence that the boys were complicit in the scheme but that the adults in positions of authority clearly violated the rules.

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8 thoughts on “Chicago Mayor Asked That Little League Return Team’s Title

  1. Baseball in the black community has disappeared. The children who plays has to go further to find a field or a team to play for. Maybe we need our own league. Negro league players would be sad to see this and to use Jackie Robinson Name and not promote baseball in the black community

  2. amazing how hard someone works to find a violation of rules when their players loose a big game but you could have checked out the other team during entire season but they were better than you thought . it took you all this time and investigations to find a rule broken you just cant believe they are still better than you soar losers even pro team like the deflated balls they still should not have beaten you this bad. punish kids for adult decision i wonder if the ball deflation would have come up if they won i don t think so it should have come up at half time and these people who reported this kid violation had time to find out about where these kids lived before they played

  3. Rhonda Merriweather on said:

    They can take away their title but they cannot take away their memories. They went all the way and won. They met the president of the United States. They were champions!

    • So you condone cheating and not following the rules ? Is that the way you teach your children to behave or do you act like its ok in certain situations ? If you cant get it following the rules and on your own it means nothing…

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