JRW Lit­tle League suit seek­ing to re­in­state stripped ti­tle can pro­ceed: court

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MADE­LINE KEN­NEY, STAFF REPORTER mken­ney@sun­times.com | @mad­ken­ney

The par­ents of play­ers on the 2014 Jackie Robin­son West team whose U.S. Lit­tle League ti­tle was va­cated over a res­i­dency scan­dal can move for­ward with a law­suit seek­ing re­in­state­ment of the team’s cham­pi­onship, the Illi­nois Ap­pel­late Court has ruled.

The JRW team — com­prised of African Amer­i­can boys, ages 10 to 12, from the South Side — cap­ti­vated the at­ten­tion of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans with their Cin­derella run to the ti­tle dur­ing the sum­mer of 2014.

But, af­ter their vic­to­ri­ous run in the tour­na­ment, Chris Janes, the vice pres­i­dent of a ri­val Lit­tle League club from Ev­er­green Park, ac­cused JRW of us­ing in­el­i­gi­ble play­ers from out­side the ap­proved league bound­aries.

Though Lit­tle League Base­ball’s ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion cleared JRW of wrong­do­ing, the youth base­ball gi­ant later found that Jackie Robin­son West Lit­tle League of­fi­cials had used a fal­si­fied boundary map, and their ti­tle ul­ti­mately was stripped.

The court rul­ing, filed Tues­day, is the lat­est de­vel­op­ment in a law­suit filed more than four years ago against Lit­tle League Base­ball, vol­un­teers who ran the team, Janes and ESPN. The ap­peals court found that the par­ents and play­ers have a valid ar­gu­ment that Lit­tle League didn’t follow its own rules by ver­i­fy­ing and ad­dress­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity be­fore or dur­ing the tour­na­ment.

Sev­eral key play­ers from that JRW team have gone on to con­tin­ued ath­letic suc­cess. Among them, short­stop Ed Howard was se­lected by the Cubs 16th over­all last month in the first round of the Ma­jor League Base­ball first-year player draft.

SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO

The Rev. Jesse Jack­son speaks for the Jackie Robin­son West Lit­tle League team in Fe­bru­ary 2015 af­ter the squad was stripped of its ti­tle.

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