Tuesday, September 4, 2001
School says records show Almonte is 14
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Danny Almonte's father
was charged Tuesday with falsifying a birth certificate to make his
son appear to be 12 when he actually was 14 -- and thus too old for
Felipe de Jesus Almonte "will be arrested as soon as he sets
foot in this country," said Victor Romero, a public-records
official in the Dominican Republic who determined the young
pitcher's real age.
De Jesus, who is still in New York, faces three to five years in
jail if convicted.
Danny's father has not made himself available to the media and
could not be reached for comment on the latest charges.
Also on Tuesday, school officials said Almonte was finishing
seventh grade in the Dominican Republic up to June -- another reason
he should not have qualified for Little League championships.
Almonte finished seventh grade June 15 at the Andres Bello
Primary School, said Bolivar de Luna Gomez, vice principal of the
school in Moca, a small farming town 90 miles north of Santo
That would have prevented the boy from playing the required six
Little League games to qualify for the championships.
"We can't lie," Gomez told The Associated Press. "He was here
and the records show this. It is the truth, and if authorities ask
us to turn the documents in, we are ready to do so."
Newsday and The New York Times had earlier reported on Almonte
attending the Dominican Republic school in the 2000-01 academic
Joann Dalmau, spokeswoman for Almonte's Bronx, N.Y.-based
Rolando Paulino All-Stars team, denied the boy had lived in the
Dominican Republic until June.
"I saw him in May here, playing in a regular-season game," she
said. "So there was no way he was in the Dominican Republic in
But Romero confirmed Almonte had been in a Dominican school
The New York team was stripped of its third-place finish in the
World Series after Almonte's real age was revealed Friday. Little
League also voided all of Almonte's records, including a perfect
Depending on the weather, Little League seasons start as early
as February and as late as June 1, with the all-star tournament
that leads to the Little League World Series beginning July 1. To
be on a league's all-star team and participate in the tournament, a
player must have played in at least half of his team's games by
Little League spokesman Lance Van Auken said that would have
been impossible for Almonte.
"If he wasn't in the country until after June 15, then it seems
impossible that he would have been eligible under those conditions
as well," Van Auken said. "It adds to the weight of evidence
against Rolando Paulino and anyone else who might have known Danny
Three of the boys on the team were born in the Dominican
Republic, one was born in Puerto Rico, and the rest are of
Van Auken said the president of each league -- in Almonte's case,
Paulino -- signs an affidavit verifying the eligibility of each
player in the tournament.
Paulino, founder and president of the league that bears his
name, was banned for life from any affiliation with Little League
because of the age controversy, as was Almonte's father.
Gomez also confirmed Almonte is registered as having been born
on April 7, 1987, as the government ruled Friday.
Jose Rojas, Almonte's uncle who initially said the boy had been
in the United States for nearly two years, retracted his earlier
statement, saying it was possible he was in Moca until June.
Hector Pereira, president of the Dominican Baseball Federation,
appealed Tuesday on behalf of the boy, saying "Danny is a
phenomenon and anything around him is news, but if they continue
investigating, they can psychologically harm the kid."
Meanwhile Tuesday, Danny and his father were on their way to
register him to attend school in the Bronx, said Jennifer Falk,
spokeswoman for the New York's Administration of Children's
"We've satisfied our concerns -- to make sure he's registered
for school," she said.
Paulino denies the accusations against him and will fight to keep a leading role in the Bronx league that he founded, a spokeswoman, Joan Dalmau, told the Times.
"He is definitely going to be involved," said Dalmau, who said she is also Danny's godmother. "I don't think this is something we can keep him out of. This is his league. We can't take that away from him."
Danny Almonte will begin attending public school this week after child welfare workers met with him and his father on Friday, Dalmau told the Times. But there are plans to enroll him later in a private school because of the publicity surrounding the controversy.
Dalmau also told the Times she had spent the last three days with the family, and she quoted Danny as saying, "I know my age; they don't know."
Dalmau also added that Felipe has left New York to find evidence that will prove his son is 12.
Almonte was the most dominating pitcher at the World Series this year, throwing a perfect game in the opener against Apopka, Fla. He struck out the first 15 Apopka batters in the first perfect game in 44 years at the tournament.
He followed that with a one-hit shutout in the U.S. semifinals against an Oceanside, Calif., team that came in averaging .333 with five batters at .500 or better.
He finished the tournament with 46 strikeouts, giving up only three hits in three starts. A run scored in last inning of his final game was the only run scored on Almonte all summer.
Behind Almonte's pitching and a solid defense, the Bronx team went 4-1 at the World Series and finished third. The team's only loss was a rematch against Apopka in which Almonte couldn't pitch because of a rule that prohibits pitchers from starting consecutive games.
Almonte became a sensation after throwing 16 strikeouts in the Mid-Atlantic Regional championship against State College. His perfect game only added to his reputation, and major leaguers Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. both contacted Almonte to wish him luck.
But rumors about Almonte's age plagued the team throughout the tournament, and Little League coaches in Staten Island, N.Y., and Pequannock, N.J., said they had hired private investigators to find proof that Bronx players were ineligible, to no avail.
Last Monday, however, Little League officials in South Williamsport began an investigation into Almonte's age after Sports Illustrated uncovered the document that said he was born in 1987.
After their third-place finish, Almonte and his team were honored in New York, receiving the keys to the city, a parade through the Bronx and a tribute at Yankee Stadium, even as the controversy flared.