The Tragedy of Little League’s Jackie Robinson West

Obama with the Jackie Robinson West Little League Team



Little League’s Jackie Robinson West was a true American feel-good story.

A story of good sportsmanship and perseverance… underdogs who pushed passed the doubters and detractors to become the first African American Little League baseball team to win the U.S. Championship.

They were fêted with a visit to the White House, made the rounds of various talk shows and had a parade through downtown Chicago in their honor.

And now it’s all gone.

Little League International stripped the team of its title when it discovered that there were players on the roster who lived outside of the approved geographic boundaries from which team members could be recruited.

Those exuberant-faced boys that we fell in love with last summer are now stained by the deliberate, calculated mistakes of a few adults.

Boundary-shifting in Little League, and other sports our children play, is not new. Sometimes there aren’t enough players in a certain area, so they expand the reach of the team. Most of the time, it’s ignored because they’re playing for the home crowd… not a televised international audience.

The manager and administrator of Jackie Robinson West wanted to build a “super-team.” Both of them knew that the home addresses of the players didn’t match the addresses Little League International had on file for the players. But it didn’t matter. They wanted to win.

We’ve all read, and probably seen, adults (coaches and parents) at kids’ sports games manically swept up in the need to win. They can be physically, mentally and verbally abusive to the children.

But, in this case, the young players on Jackie Robinson West were abused, too. They probably knew that some of the other players on their team didn’t live around them, but they were manipulated into thinking it was okay… because that’s what they were told by the adults.

What will become of these boys who had a brief shining moment in the summer sun? Do they have parents that will help them understand that what happened is not their fault, and that they are still talented and gifted athletes and should still pursue their dreams?



Like it? Share it!

posted under The Kitchen Think

6 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Little League’s Jackie Robinson West

  1. Tina W

    I can only hope that the adults who knew about this and did nothing are banned from participating in Little League in any way, shape or form. The youngsters should not be the only ones with consequences.

    1. Christina Post author

      So far, the manager and administrator have been suspended from participating in Little League… but we’ll see if they are reinstated or allowed to participate again!

  2. Peggy Gilbey McMackin

    A really good story Chris, with so much to pause for reflection. I appreciate you bringing this issue to light (I only caught a brief headline having been at the hospital with my Aunt all week and speaking with relatives at night.) I certainly hope the parents of the players on this team will continue to encourage their sons- one fortunate part is that they are likely now already on radars of those that may assist them in the future. As far as team leadership (managers/coaches)and parents, in sports, these both present their own unique issues. Having raised a daughter through to Division 1 college sports, I’ve seen a lot of bad behavior. In the end, I still believe, we should heartily support and cheer for all the children, and for their team. Ultimately, one’s child has it, or they do not,to move on to the next level,but participation and development is important for all who desire. Poor behavior, sabotaging, lack of sportsmanship, and social drama will not alter this. Although in the climb up the mountain, potential opportunities could be lost. The parents job in sports is to support their child, and to support their child’s team. And just that is plenty of hard work without the extras. Thanks again for bringing this to light.

    1. Christina Post author

      Peggy, you are so eloquent… and right on target. As a mom who obviously has “been there,” you know what our kids are up against, without having all the added drama of the added baggage that some parents may bring with their lust for victory. You are right, it’s nice to think the kids may get another chance because they’ve played on the national stage and already have the attention of those who might give them the encouragement they need to continue their athletic dreams.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: