Stripped U.S. LLWS champ Jackie Robinson West may drop lawsuit

Chicago Little League team Jackie Robinson West might drop a lawsuit against the sport's governing body in which it alleged the team was wrongfully stripped of the 2014 national title.

Jackie Robinson West, which lost to South Korea in the world championship game, was accused of using ineligible players by altering the league's boundaries.

Although lawyers representing the team filed a motion to withdraw their complaint last Wednesday, attorney Victor Henderson released a statement Tuesday saying they might not be done fighting.

"Through its recent legal filings, Little League has chosen to be deceitful and dishonest by withholding material and critical information," Henderson said. "Instead of taking a transparent and honest approach, Little League is acting like a corporate conglomerate doing everything it can to protect its image and financial interests. This is a travesty, especially because little kids are the ones who are taking the brunt of their tactic. Legal disputes, just like baseball games, don't take place in one inning. For now, I simply encourage everyone to be patient. The game is far from over."

Little League International had initially upheld Jackie Robinson West's title but in February reversed course and stripped the team from Chicago's South Side of its national championship. According to findings by Little League International, only five of the team's 13 players were eligible to play for the team at the time.

Little League filed documents last week contending Jackie Robinson West was stripped of its national championship because of "fraud and cover-up."

The Little League court filings say the original league boundary map submitted in May when the team began tournament play accurately reflected the league boundaries but showed only five of the team's players lived within them. Maps submitted in September and December by Jackie Robinson West then showed that all players lived within the boundaries, according to the court documents.

"To repeat, discipline was imposed because JRW officials falsified the JRW boundary maps, and therefore used ineligible players," Little League said.

In the court papers, Little League contends that as accusations of impropriety began to surface after the team's title run, a district administrator and a team director met with officials from surrounding leagues "to attempt to persuade them to retroactively agree to boundary changes" so players would not be found ineligible.

Little League filed its paperwork Thursday, with Little League spokesman Brian McClintock saying the group received notice afterward by mail that Jackie Robinson West filed a petition to withdraw the lawsuit. McClintock said "the response speaks for itself, and we have no further comment."

In June, attorneys representing the team sought information from Little League International on the governing body's decision and the names of whistleblowers. Jackie Robinson West's lawyers were attempting to prove that Little League International had failed to follow its own procedures and protocols in deciding to punish the team.

Henderson had said in June that he believed some of what Little League International claimed -- that some of the players did not live within local league boundaries. However, he also said he thought race played some part in the stripping of the team's title. Jackie Robinson West's 2014 team was comprised of only black players.

"Do I think race is at play? Yes, I do think that it's at play at some level," Henderson said in June. "Do I think that's the only reason? No, I do not."

Jackie Robinson West's run to the championship started as an uplifting and inspirational story that ended with its win over Las Vegas to capture the national crown at the 2014 Little League World Series. The team fell to South Korea in the world championship game. When it was over, the players were treated to a massive parade downtown, a trip to the White House to meet President Barack Obama and another trip to San Francisco to watch the World Series.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.