Sunday, June 16, 2024

Parents of Little Leaguers Sue Stephen A. Smith, ESPN

stephen_a_smith*The parents of former Jackie Robinson West Little Leaguers are taking ESPN and sports commentator Stephen A. Smith to task for the role they played in the scandal the team faced when it was stripped of its championship title in 2014.

According to, former Jackie Robinson West coach Darold Butler and the parents filed a lawsuit Thursday (Feb. 11) against Little League International, ESPN and officials from the local league under allegations that they profited off the disgraced team while knowing of its ineligible players. In addition to ESPN and Smith, former league president Bill Haley and Evergreen Park whistleblower Chris Janes are named in the suit.

In the complaint, Butler and the other team officials allege the Little League International organization publicized the boundary maps and player addresses to gain favorable publicity for itself as well as profit from JRW’s success. The suit mentions that Little League International did this without making the parents being aware that JRW fielded ineligible players who lived outside the team’s designated boundaries.

News of the parents’ lawsuit comes a year after Jackie Robinson West was stripped of its championship last year after Little League International ruled JRW officials allowed ineligible players to make the roster. Janes initially brought the situation about the residency of some of the players to light, which resulted in Little League International’s investigation.

As for ESPN’s involvement, the suit alleges the network defamed Butler and others by saying they fabricated residency documents and deliberately assembled JRW’s ineligible teams. In a section about ESPN’s “First Take,” the suit goes on to say that Smith mentioned on national television that Butler “threw” his players “into the wind.”

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