JRW Little League suit seeking to reinstate stripped title can proceed: court
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.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks for the Jackie Robinson West Little League team in February 2015 after the squad was stripped of its title.