The decision to strip JRW of its national title is raising questions about how widespread cheating may be throughout Little League.
A coach who competes against JRW in the same district told ABC 7 that for years, JRW and other teams have used players from outside their boundaries, and until now, Little League officials turned a blind eye.
Renee Cannon-Young sees hypocrisy in the stripping of JRW’s title.
In 2011, she says her son Jacoby was recruited to play in Evergreen Park’s Little League, despite living on Chicago’s South Side.
“The paperwork was filled out for me,” Cannon-Young said. “I was told that although he was not a resident of Evergreen Park, they were going to fix that so that he could play. Just use another address, and he would be able to play.”
Cannon-Young says she thought nothing of it – it was just baseball – until Evergreen Park raised suspicions about JRW.
JRW isn’t the first team to violate residency rules, according to the head of Little League International.
“These types of things do happen occasionally at the local level, but they’re usually sorted out pretty much when the local tournament begins because neighbors know neighbors,” said Stephen D. Keener, president and CEO of Little League International.
In fact, former major league pitcher and South Holland native Mark Mulder tweeted Wednesday: “JRW Little League has been cheating and doing things the wrong way since I played them as a kid…”
Attorney Eldon Ham authored a book about cheating in baseball and says Little League has grown to be as competitive as high school sports, which has long had a problem with “ringers”.
“The question that came to me was: is this an isolated incident, or is this the kind of thing with Little League being so competitive that you have to have ringers even to be competitive at that level?” Ham said.
ABC7 was unable to reach anyone from Evergreen Park baseball Wednesday night to respond to Renee Cannon-Young’s claim that her son’s residency was forged. Cannon-Young says she knows of at least one other Chicago boy who played for Evergreen Park that season in 2011.