As if the Jackie Robinson Little League team needs more drama, along comes Rahm Emanuel.
Sports Illustrated is reporting that Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, Illinois, has received enough personal donations to buy rings for the members of the Little League team. The plan to present the rings to the players will continue, in spite of the U.S. Little League Title being stripped from them. The rings will have each player’s name, number, and Jackie Robinson’s number 42 on the ring.
The rings, having been paid for and ordered, are on the way. It is expected that the boys will receive their rings at a special ceremony during the March City Council meeting.
It was discovered that the adults that run the team violated residency rules, allowing players who weren’t in the correct area to play for the Jackie Robinson Little League team.
Little League officials opened the investigation that led to knowledge of the violation. Emanuel feels that the boys on the team shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a couple of adults.
“These young men demonstrated tremendous character both on and off the field, and Chicago will honor them as the champions they are,” Emanuel said. “The memories they created will last a lifetime, and so will the championship rings they have earned.”
ESPN is reporting that Emanuel was on the phone to Little League International CEO Stephen D. Keener, asking the organization to rescind their decision. Emanuel was told that, as hard as the decision was to make, it was final and there is no recourse.
Emanual had begun planning the ring ceremony just after the Jackie Robinson team won the U.S. title and didn’t think the boys should suffer for the errors of the adults.
During the call, Emanuel had labored for an alternative form of punishment, such as banning the league from playing for a pre-determined period of time. The 10-minute call ended without a change being made.
Emanuel said later that this decision turned “perpetrators when they are victims,” according to his office.
Though the Little League Organization has declared the matter over, members of the community are far from letting it end here.
“We are asking a law group to look into this, to investigate, because we are hearing from folks all over the country that the [boundary] standards that Jackie Robinson West is being held to is not being held to by other teams across the United States,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a South Side Catholic preacher and community activist.
An attorney for the Jackie Robinson West team said the team still feels it is the U.S. Champion, and nothing has changed that.
“I’m taking the position, and I think they should take the position, that they are still champions unless and until we find out there was a fair process that was even-handed,” attorney Victor Henderson said.
[Image courtesy of patch.com]