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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2001 > Timeline Leading Up To Announcement Of New Eligibility Standards And Verification Procedures

Timeline Leading Up To Announcement Of New Eligibility Standards And Verification Procedures

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Dec. 11, 2001) – The following is a timeline of events leading up to December 11, 2001, when Little League Baseball announced its new standards and verification procedures in determining the eligibility of players.

July 2000
Rumors are reported to Little League Baseball International Headquarters in Williamsport, Pa., and the Eastern Region Headquarters in Bristol, Conn., regarding the Rolando Paulino Little League of the Bronx, N.Y. The rumors state that there may be players on the Rolando Paulino Little League Majors Division tournament team who are over the league age of 12, in violation of both the regular season regulations and the Tournament Rules and Guidelines. However, there is no documentary evidence of any kind presented to substantiate the rumors. Additionally, there is no evidence presented that shows the participants on the Rolando Paulino Little League team might be ineligible because of residence or failure to participate in one-half of the regular season games as of June 15. Nevertheless, Little League takes the unusual step of requesting additional documentation from the Rolando Paulino Little League team to verify the ages of all players on the team. The documentation is provided, all of which substantiates the eligibility of all the players on the team.
August 2000
The Rolando Paulino Little League Majors Division team is defeated in the championship game of the Eastern Region Tournament in Bristol, Conn.
July - August 2001
Rumors are again reported to Little League Baseball International Headquarters, and the Eastern Region Headquarters, regarding the Rolando Paulino Little League Majors Division team. Once again, the rumors state that there may be players on the Rolando Paulino Little League Majors Division tournament team who are over the league age of 12. Again, there is no documentary evidence of any kind presented to substantiate the rumors, and there is no indication that any players on the team might be ineligible because of residence or lack of participation in one-half of the regular season games as of June 15. Once again, Little League takes the unusual step of requesting additional documentation from the Rolando Paulino Little League team to verify the ages of all players on the team. The documentation is provided, again, all of which substantiates the eligibility of all the players on the team. As in the previous year, the additional proof of age includes documents issued by the governments of the United States as well as the Dominican Republic, where two of the players on the team were born. (One other player on the team was born in Puerto Rico, and the balance of the players were born in the United States.)
Tuesday, August 14, 2001
The Rolando Paulino Little League team, state champion of New York for the third consecutive year, wins the Mid-Atlantic Region Championship and receives a berth in the Little League Baseball World Series.
Wednesday, August 15, 2001
Little League Baseball International Headquarters Operations Department staff personally inspect government-issued documents provided by Rolando Paulino Little League, all of which substantiates that all players on the team are either league age 11 or 12. The league provides more documentation verifying the ages of the players than is required of any local Little League program.
Thursday, August 23, 2001
A Sports Illustrated reporter uncovers evidence suggesting that Danny Almonte, one of the players on the Rolando Paulino Little League team, may be league age 14. The reporter spends several days in the Dominican Republic to uncover this evidence. This discovery, however, is not reported to Little League Baseball until Monday, Aug. 27, the day after the Series ends. (See the entry below for Monday, August 27, 2001).
Saturday, August 25, 2001
The Rolando Paulino Little League team is defeated in the U.S. Championship Game of the Little League Baseball World Series by Apopka (Fla.) National Little League.
Sunday, August 26, 2001
The Rolando Paulino Little League team defeats the Pariba Little League team from Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, in the Consolation Game (for third place) of the Little League Baseball World Series. In the World Championship Game, Tokyo Kitasuna Little League of Tokyo, Japan, defeats Apopka National Little League.
Monday, August 27, 2001
A Sports Illustrated reporter presents a photocopy of a birth record for Danny Almonte to a member of the Little League Baseball Headquarters staff. The document, issued by the government of the Dominican Republic, alleges that Danny Almonte’s true league age may be 14 and not 12, as is the case on other forms of government-issued documentation previously provided to Little League Baseball. The information originally supplied includes an affidavit of birth registration obtained in 2000 from a Dominican Republic government office stating that Danny Almonte was born in Moca, Dominican Republic, on April 7, 1989. A passport issued by the government of the Dominican Republic and a visa issued by the United States also contained a date of birth of April 7, 1989. The document obtained by Sports Illustrated also is an affidavit of birth registration from the government of the Dominican Republic, issued in 1994, stating that Danny Almonte was born on April 7, 1987. This is the first documentation of any kind to be presented that contradicts the information supplied by Rolando Paulino Little League. Little League Baseball begins an investigation into the validity of the document.
Tuesday, August 28, 2001
Rolando Paulino (the founder of the local league, a league officer, and the de-facto president of the league), and Felipe de Jesus Almonte (Danny Almonte’s father) meet with two members of the Little League Baseball Charter Committee, in New York City. Mr. Almonte insists that Danny Almonte is 12 years old, and that he does not know who might have registered his son’s birth on the document issued in 1994. Mr. Paulino supports the statements by Mr. Almonte, adding that the two have been friends since before Danny Almonte was born. Several telephone interviews of Mr. Paulino are also conducted over the next few days by Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball. Mr. Paulino also confirms that Danny Almonte did not enter the U.S. until at least June 28, 2000.
Wednesday, August 29, 2001
The government of the Dominican Republic states that the national public records office and the central board of elections will rule on Danny Almonte’s true age. On the following morning, Little League announces that it will accept the findings of the Dominican Republic.
Friday, August 31, 2001
The central board of elections of the Dominican Republic rules that documents registered by Danny Almonte’s father in 2000 were obtained illegally, and that the true birth date is April 7, 1987, making him a league-age 14-year-old. Shortly thereafter, the Little League Baseball Charter Committee meets to consider sanctions against the Rolando Paulino Little League. At 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Little League Baseball holds a news conference to announce these Charter Committee decisions:
  • The charter for the Rolando Paulino Little League will not be revoked.
  • No punitive action will be taken against Danny Almonte.
  • All games played by the Rolando Paulino Little League tournament team in the Little League Baseball Division are forfeited. All championships won by the team in district, section, state and regional play are awarded to those teams defeated by Rolando Paulino Little League. The third place title in the Little League Baseball World Series is awarded to Pariba Little League of Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. Fourth place is not awarded and no other placements will be listed among the other teams.
  • The title of world champion, won by the Tokyo Kitasuna Little League of Tokyo, Japan, is not affected.
  • As a result of its review, Little League Baseball has banned Rolando Paulino (a coach and league officer for the local league) and Felipe de Jesus Almonte (Danny Almonte's father) from any further association or involvement with the Little League program worldwide.
  • Little League Baseball will work closely with the local league to reorganize with credible leadership to ensure a similar situation is not repeated.
  • The privilege of participating in the 2002 International Tournament for the Rolando Paulino Little League is suspended, pending reorganization of the local league's management and operations. Reinstatement of tournament privileges will be made when Little League Baseball is assured of the local league's compliance with all rules, regulations and policies.
  • Little League Baseball will work to strengthen its eligibility verification process.
September 2001
Published reports indicate that Danny Almonte and other members of the Rolando Paulino Little League team did not attend school during the 2000-2001 school year in New York, as required by law. In response, Mr. Almonte admitted that his son did not attend school. However, subsequent reports indicated that Danny Almonte and at least one other player on the team, Francisco Peña, did attend school throughout the spring of 2001 and for most of June in the Dominican Republic. This indicates that Danny Almonte and Francisco Peña could not have played for half of the regular season as of June 15 – also a violation of eligibility rules. Subsequent information was received indicating that Danny Almonte also could not have played one-half of the regular season games as of June 15 in the 200 season, during which he also participated on the tournament team, advancing to the final game of the Eastern Region Tournament in Bristol, Conn.
September - present
Little League Baseball establishes contact with those in the Bronx, N.Y., area, to locate competent leadership for the local Little League program.
December 11, 2001
Little League Baseball announces new standards and procedures for determining the eligibility of players.