WEST PULLMAN — Officials with Jackie Robinson West, the Chicago youth baseball squad that won the U.S. Little League championship but had it stripped for using ineligible players, filed legal action against Little League Wednesday in hopes of regaining their title.
The local organization claims Little League International, which found Jackie Robinson had used players outside its geographical boundaries, says the governing body did not allow Jackie Robinson West an "opportunity to be heard or present any evidence in opposition to the penalties before it reached a decision" to strip the South Side team of its title.
In legal documents, Jackie Robinson West asks the court to force Little League to hand over information about how it discovered where the players lived and who gave it to them, including the Illinois State Police, as well as the identities of people who "raised concerns" about where the players lived.
In a 97-page summary of an investigation distributed to some reporters by the Henderson Adam LLC law firm, Jackie Robinson West argues that Little League is required to determine eligibility before games and that challenges must "be raised on a timely basis before tournament play continues."
"There were no timely protests made against JRW. Accordingly, Little League had no right to challenge the eligibility of the players on JRW. Hence it was improper for Little League to attempt to strip the title from JRW," according to the investigation summary.
The stripping of Jackie Robinson's West title followed a series of reports by DNAinfo Chicago, which reported that league officials used players from outside the geographic area established by all of the league's in Chicago's South Side District. 4.
DNAinfo Chicago reporters were barred from Wednesday's press conference.
In a written statement, Little League International spokesman Brian McClintock wrote, "As we have not had the opportunity to review the petition, it would be inappropriate to comment on it specifically."
The statement continued, "All 152 teams participating in the 16 Little League Baseball Regional Tournaments in 2014 underwent the same eligibility verification process. This process takes place prior to the start of each level of play of Little League International Tournament, not before every game, which was mentioned."
The statement said that Little League first found out about JRW's wrongdoing on January 31, 2014. "Throughout the entire process, Little League International staff was in regular contact with Jackie Robinson West League Official, Bill Haley, about these numerous allegations."
It added, "Jackie Robinson West has also been advised numerous times of the opportunity to have an official, in-person review of this decision [to strip JRW of the Little League Title] with the Charter/Tournament Committee, but, as of this date, has declined to do so."
More to come later.
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