In this Aug. 27, 2014, file photo, members of the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team participate in a rally celebrating the team’s U.S. Little League Championship in Chicago. Little League International has stripped Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West team of its national title after finding the team falsified its boundary map. The league made the announcement Wednesday morning, Feb. 11, 2015, saying the Chicago team violated regulations by placing players on the team who didn’t qualify because they lived outside the team’s boundaries. Little League International also suspended Jackie Robinson West manager Darold Butler from league activity. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
CHICAGO (AP) — Little League International has stripped Jackie Robinson West of the national title that the Chicago team won last summer after an investigation revealed it had falsified boundaries to field ineligible players.
In a stunning Wednesday announcement that came months after the all-Black team captured the attention of the country and the hearts of its hometown, the baseball organization said it also found that after the boundaries were changed, league officials went to surrounding leagues to convince them to go along with what they’d done.
“This is a heartbreaking decision,” Stephen D. Keener, the Little League International president and CEO, said in a statement.
“As painful as it is, we feel it is a necessary decision to maintain the integrity of the Little League program. No team can be allowed to attempt to strengthen its team by putting players on their roster that live outside their boundaries.”
The team’s manager, Darold Butler, has been suspended from Little League activities, according to the statement.
The investigation began when a suburban coach alleged the team had violated rules by poaching top players from nearby suburbs. The story, which was first reported by DNAinfo.com, appeared to end in December when the national organization said it had uncovered no violations.
But in February, the organization revealed that it had reopened the investigation after receiving new information.
League officials did not immediately return calls for comment. Throughout the investigation, the team has maintained that no cheating occurred.