WILLIAMSPORT, PA: Little League Baseball had been coasting off a
stellar year that included President Bush building a tee-ball field on
the White House lawn for league games, and being the subject of a movie
by best-selling scribe John Grisham.
But then the news broke that Danny Almonte, a pitcher who had thrown a
perfect game and carried his team to third place in the Little League
World Series, had lied about his age. Almonte had performed so well that
Major Leaguers Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson called to congratulate
Little League's headache began when a Sports Illustrated reporter
uncovered that Almonte was two years older than he claimed to be. The
national press jumped on the story.
Little League Baseball handled all its PR in-house, setting up a news
conference that was held at its Williamsport, PA headquarters on August
31. At the conference, the president of Little League Baseball Stephen
Keener announced a number of initiatives to address the situation, and
make sure that it didn't happen again.
Little League said that it would work with the US State Department and
immigration officials to strengthen Little League's age verification
Little League Baseball is also planning to work closely with the Bronx
division Danny Almonte played in to reorganize its leadership in order
to ensure that a similar situation is not repeated.
"Clearly, adults have used Danny Almonte and his teammates in a most
contemptible and despicable way," said Stephen Keener, president of
Little League Baseball at the conference. "We are certainly saddened and
angry that we were deceived. In fact, millions of Little Leaguers around
the world were deceived, as well as Little League as an
The seven-member voting committee of Little League Baseball unanimously
decided to make the Bronx team forfeit all its games for the season,
including the World Series, state, and regional play. In addition, it
banned Rolando Paulino, the coach of the team, and Felipe de Jesus
Almonte, Danny's father, for life.
Little League Baseball stopped short of revoking Paulino's Little League
charter, which includes a number of other teams. That was the most
severe penalty that the committee could have imposed.
"Revoking the charter would prevent hundreds of children in the league
from enjoying the positive benefits of Little League Baseball," said