2015-03-12 / Opinion

Little League a Sign of Spring

EDITORIAL

The snow and ice have begun to melt away, and hopefully we will see more signs of spring soon. One sure sign is that Little League and other baseball and softball registration has begun. On Saturday, March 21, youth from 7-12 years old who want to play should grab their sneakers and gloves and go to Thompson Middle School for signups.

Our wish for this season is that young baseball players in these parts have fun and play safely on the island’s diamonds.

Of course, news that unfolded after last summer’s Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., created national headlines and resulted in considerable hand-wringing within youth sports circles across America as the 2014 national Little League champions were eventually “dethroned” amid tears and no small amount of invective.

The Chicago Jackie Robinson West All Stars team that captured the national crown was later disqualified for placing ineligible players on the roster. Some adults associated with the Chicago team apparently stretched the rules.

According to Little League officials, adults associated with the team knowingly used players in its lineup who lived outside the team’s geographic boundaries. Yet, title defenders claimed no rules were broken. Rather, they asserted, some Jackie Robinson West All Stars rightly belonged on the team roster because they and their families had been evicted from their residences or became homeless during the season.

The “tragedy” was compounded by the fact that the team was comprised entirely of black players. And their success in winning the national championship, even for such a short time, had marked the first time ever that an all-black ball club had captured the national Little League title.

The boys who played on the Jackie Robinson team say they will continue to cherish the memory of their team and its accomplishment. And they should. After all, they’re still just kids.

Considering the important role that Jackie Robinson played in advancing racial equality in America during the 1940s and 1950s, we hope that adults who coach kids on Aquidneck Island, Chicago, or anywhere else do so in a manner that honors Robinson’s memory.

And, we remain confident that the adults who coach or manage Little League teams on our island would never stoop to using roster shenanigans attributed by some to the dethroned Chicago team.

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