CHICAGO — Jackie Robinson West’s disgraced leader Bill Haley has resigned — a move that could clear the way for the South Side youth baseball organization to participate in Little League games next year, DNAinfo Chicago has learned.
In February, Little League International officials ruled Haley participated in a conspiracy to fraudulently change league boundaries and field an all-star team packed with suburban ringers who won the 2014 Little League World Series U.S. Championship.
After a series of stories published by DNAinfo Chicago, Little League officials stripped JRW of the title and placed the league on probation until Haley, who served as league treasurer, and his mother, JRW President Anne Haley, were replaced on the JRW board.
The Haleys, however, resisted that demand and threatened to sue Little League to keep the title and remain in control of the JRW league.
Because of the standoff, JRW did not play under the Little League umbrella in the summer of 2015. Instead, the kids played for the Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken league.
But on Tuesday, Little League officials confirmed the Haleys stepped down ahead of a Dec. 31 deadline to comply with the sanctions. Little League International threatened to permanently kick JRW, which was founded by Bill Haley's late father, out of the league.
“Little League International is pleased that Jackie Robinson West Little League has taken this necessary first step in order to come into compliance with all Little League regulations,” Little League CEO Stephen D. Keener said.
Longtime JRW volunteer Todd Prince, a coach and Haley family loyalist, takes over as league president. It’s unclear who replaces Bill Haley as treasurer.
Prince did not return messages seeking comment.
But Little League International officials emailed the following statement attributed to Prince:
“We are looking forward to working with our volunteers, community members, and Little League International as we get ready for our 2016 season. Jackie Robinson West Little League has a long history of providing a positive, healthy sporting opportunity for the children in our community, and we’re looking forward to a great year.”
Little League got word that Prince was elected president and treasurer in mid-October, about the time DNAinfo Chicago reported that leaders from two South Side youth baseball organizations had filed separate applications to charter leagues within JRW’s boundaries.
On Dec. 3, Little League International officials met with Prince to “review the necessary requirements to remove the league from its probationary status” before the league is again allowed to be a “full participant” in the 2016 season.
Now, JRW must adopt a new league constitution that complies to boundaries already approved by Little League, and provide “a list of all registered players with their residence or school enrollment address” plotted on an approved league boundary map. Little League officials have pledged to help JRW’s new leadership meet those requirements.
“We look forward to working with the new league leadership to help re-establish the Little League program with the hopes of providing the children of the Jackie Robinson West Little League a meaningful Little League experience this season,” Keener said.
It’s unclear what role Bill Haley, who was a coach on the 2014 all-star team, will have with the league going forward. He did not return a call seeking comment.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: