The New Albany Little League team is going to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series, just a year later than it had hoped.
New Albany lost the Great Lakes championship to Jackie Robinson West of Chicago last year in the regional final. Jackie Robinson West would go on to win the U.S. championship and then lose in the final for the world title.
But months later after questions about the geographic boundaries that Jackie Robinson West had used to select players, Little League stripped JRW in February of the U.S. title and the regional title. District administrator Michael Kelly was removed from his position and team manager Darold Butler was suspended.
“We asked the boys, and all of them want to go,” New Albany manager Josh Biven told the Indianapolis Star. “As soon as the news came out (in February), they were all over their Instagram with Great Lakes champ and their numbers. They feel like they did kind of get screwed out of their opportunity to play.”
“They deserve this recognition. Just to see it will be neat. I’ve never been there. My son has never been there. Just to get there, walk around a little bit and hang out will be really cool.”
For the Mountain West Little League in Nevada, it received the U.S. title banner and already had the experience of going to Williamsport.
For New Albany, the players and coaches were honored as Great Lakes champion with a ceremony in their town but didn’t get to experience the trip to Pennsylvania until now, thanks to Little League. The team bus leaves Tuesday and they will arrive Wednesday.
“Little League will bring the 2014 New Albany Little League Baseball team to attend this year’s Little League Baseball World Series,” Little League spokesman Brian McClintock said. “While nothing can replace the experience of playing in Williamsport, every Region Champion should have the opportunity to participate in the fun, exciting activities surrounding the World Series.”
While they won’t be able to play, of course, the team’s agenda will be full.
“The team from New Albany will be a part of the Grand Slam Parade, our Opening Ceremonies, receive the jerseys, hats, and medals that all World Series participants receive, and be welcomed at all other World Series events during their stay in Williamsport,” McClintock said.
They also will get to throw out the first pitch for the opening game by the Great Lakes’ champion.
As for Jackie Robinson West, attorneys for the team filed a motion last week to drop its planned lawsuit. In its response before JRW announced its intention to drop the suit, Little League said eight of the 13 players were from outside the boundary and that JRW had orchestrated a “fraud and cover-up” that included two false maps.
Additional details were uncovered in a Outside The Lines report that aired Sunday, although neither Little League nor anyone associated with JRW would speak to ESPN.