Officials of the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team said today they have “one more battle to face" after the team was stripped of its championship title.
"We come to you today because you were with us then and we ask that you stand with us now," William Haley, whose father started the Jackie Robinson West Little League that now fields 38 teams, said today at a news conference of their request for more transparency about the league's decision.
Haley, director of the Jackie Robinson West league, said similar allegations against the team were dismissed in December 2014 by Little League International when the team showed proof of the players' residency.
"And clearly we have one more battle to face," Haley told reporters in Chicago.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson joined the news conference, saying that the team earned the title and will fight to keep it.
Little League Baseball stripped the championship title from the Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West team on Wednesday, despite a plea from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The team's coach was suspended for violating a rule that prohibits the inclusion of players who live outside a team's geographic area.
The first all-African-American team to win the championship was instructed to vacate wins from the 2014 Little League Baseball International Tournament, including its Great Lakes Regional and U.S. championships. The national championship title was then awarded to Mountain Ridge Little League from Las Vegas.
A spokesman for Little League International told ABC News today that the organization “stands by the difficult decision” announced yesterday.
“Little League International will be working with its counsel to ensure Jackie Robinson West Little League officials and their attorney are fully educated regarding the factual basis of the decision,” Brian McClintock of Little League International said in a statement.
The team's manager, Darold Butler, was suspended from Little League activity, and Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly was removed from his position.
The baseball organization said it discovered that the Jackie Robinson team used a falsified boundary map and team officials met with neighboring Little League districts in Illinois to recruit players.
Victor Henderson, the team's attorney, said today his clients were not notified before the team was stripped of its title. He added that the team is not fully aware of the rules on which the organization based its action.
Henderson noted that the families and children are waiting patiently to learn more information.
"We're going to take our time," Henderson said. "We're going to learn the facts. We're going to learn what rules were at play. The main thing is that this is all early. This has happened in less than 48 hours."
Henderson addressed rumors about a lawsuit, saying, "There is no talk of a lawsuit."
"We don't have information yet about why the league made its decision. We're not raising the race card or claims of unfairness, rather what we do as lawyers is to make sure the process is fair and transparent," Henderson said.