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Little League Strips Chicago's Jackie Robinson West Of U.S. Title

In this Aug. 27, 2014, photo, members of the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team participate in a rally in Chicago celebrating the team's U.S. Little League Championship. Little League International has stripped the team of its national title after finding the team falsified its boundary map.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP
In this Aug. 27, 2014, photo, members of the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team participate in a rally in Chicago celebrating the team's U.S. Little League Championship. Little League International has stripped the team of its national title after finding the team falsified its boundary map.

Updated at 10:04 a.m.

Chicago's Jackie Robinson West team, the first all-African-American team to win the U.S. championship, has been stripped of its title after Little League International said today the team had violated residency rules.

Patrick Smith from member station WBEZ tells our Newscast unit that Little League International says the team illegally used players from outside its geographic area.

The team's wins in the 2014 Little League Baseball International Tournament, where it lost to a South Korean team in the final, as well as wins in the Great Lakes Regional and U.S. championships, have been vacated, Little League International said.

The team's manager has been suspended from Little League activity and the Illinois District 4 administrator has been removed from his job.

In a statement announcing the decision, Little League International said the team used a falsified boundary map in the 2014 tournament, and that "Jackie Robinson West Little League officials met with other leagues in Illinois District 4 to try to get the territory they wrongfully claimed was theirs for their 2014 tournament."

"This is a heartbreaking decision. What these players accomplished on the field and the memories and lessons they have learned during the Little League World Series tournament is something the kids can be proud of, but it is unfortunate that the actions of adults have led to this outcome," Stephen D. Keener, Little League International president and CEO, said in the statement.

The U.S. championship has been awarded to Mountain Ridge Little League from Las Vegas.

The Chicago Sun-Times has the background on the allegations that led to today's decision:

"In December, the national organization had shot down allegations that several members of last summer's U.S. championship team violated the league's residency requirements. "Those allegations were first made in October by Chris Janes, vice president of Evergreen Park Athletic Association, a rival organization. "He filed his complaint after noticing that school officials and politicians from several south suburbs boasted that members of the team were from their towns during the Little League World Series run last August. "At that time, Pat Wilson, senior vice president of operations for Little League International, was dismissive of Janes' complaint. "What he did acknowledged, however, was that some players' addresses included in Janes' complaint did not match the addresses Little League International had on file for the players. "Wilson said the team provided a satisfactory explanation for those differences."

Jackie Robinson West's wins captured Chicago's imagination. NPR's Cheryl Corley, reporting at the time, said: "It's been 31 years since an all-black team made it into the Little League Baseball World Series. And that was also the Jackie Robinson West team in 1983.

"Since then the number of African-Americans involved in baseball in the major leagues as well as Little League has been on the decline as basketball and football became more popular."

Natalie Moore of Chicago Public Radio reported at the time, "JRW's national win has been a unifying moment for many here. The 11 and 12-year-old boys captured the city's heart during the series."

Previous winners that have had their wins vacated are Zamboanga (Philippines) City Little League in 1992, which had won the title, and Rolando Paulino Little League from Bronx, N.Y., in 2001, which had finished third.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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