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Wednesday, June 25, 2003
After Almonte, officials demand proof of eligibility

Associated Press

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Teams trying to reach the Little League World Series this year will need to carry more than just their bats and gloves: They'll also need proof of eligibility.

Little League officials will now require teams in the international tournament to carry with them at all times proof of each player's age and residency and a map showing the league's boundaries. Players who live outside the boundary must have an appropriate eligibility waiver.

Scott Miller, a spokesman for Little League Baseball Inc., said the change was made in April by the organization's tournament committee.

Previously, teams had to provide such documentation at the start of the international tournament, then again if they reached the regional tournament. Regional champions advance to the Little League World Series.

The new rule requires teams to carry the documents with them to every game through each stage of the tournament.

Miller said the new rule would make it easier for teams and league officials to answer eligibility challenges. Under the previous rule, once the documentation had been approved at the beginning of the tournament, teams could leave it at home, meaning some challenges could not be immediately answered.

Two years ago, the Rolando Paulino All-Stars from the Bronx, N.Y., were stripped of their third-place finish at the Little League World Series when league officials learned that record-breaking pitcher Danny Almonte was too old to play Little League.

Last year, rumors of illegal players swirled around the Harlem team. Some Harlem players did live outside their league boundaries, but each was found to have received a proper waiver.