Little League Baseball Star Danny Almonte Is Found to Be Overage Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Danny Almonte gained fame for exceptional pitching in the 2001 Little League Baseball World Series. Sports reporters soon discovered that he was fourteen years old, two years over the age limit for players. His team was stripped of its records for the season. Both the team’s founder and Almonte’s father were banned from Little League for life.

Summary of Event

Pitcher Danny Almonte, a native of the Dominican Republic, and his team, the Rolando Paulino All Stars (also known as the Baby Bronx Bombers), captured the attention of fans and the media after their participation in the 2001 Little League Baseball World Series (LLWS). The team garnered this attention not because it won the LLWS but because of scandal. The Japanese team, Tokyo-Kitasuna, won the series but was kept from the spotlight after rumors began to surface about Almonte’s true age. [kw]Baseball Star Danny Almonte Is Found to Be Overage, Little League (Aug. 27, 2001) [kw]Almonte Is Found to Be Overage, Little League Baseball Star Danny (Aug. 27, 2001) Almonte, Danny Baseball;Little League Little League Baseball Dominican Republic Paulino, Rolando Almonte, Danny Baseball;Little League Little League Baseball Dominican Republic Paulino, Rolando Dominican Republic [g]Central and South America;Aug. 27, 2001: Little League Baseball Star Danny Almonte Is Found to Be Overage[03100] [g]Dominican Republic;Aug. 27, 2001: Little League Baseball Star Danny Almonte Is Found to Be Overage[03100] [c]Hoaxes, frauds, and charlatanism;Aug. 27, 2001: Little League Baseball Star Danny Almonte Is Found to Be Overage[03100] [c]Sports;Aug. 27, 2001: Little League Baseball Star Danny Almonte Is Found to Be Overage[03100] [c]Families and children;Aug. 27, 2001: Little League Baseball Star Danny Almonte Is Found to Be Overage[03100] [c]Publishing and journalism;Aug. 27, 2001: Little League Baseball Star Danny Almonte Is Found to Be Overage[03100] Almonte, Felipe Breton, Sonia Rojas Thomsen, Ian Llosa, Luis Fernando

Reporters pressed Rolando Paulino, the founder and president of the Bronx team, to settle the rumors. He supplied a copy of Almonte’s official birth certificate, which had been filed in the Dominican Republic. The certificate indicated that Almonte was born April 7, 1989, which would have made him twelve years old during the 2001 season. Two Sports Sports Illustrated (magazine) Illustrated writers, Ian Thomsen and Luis Fernando Llosa, tried to verify the authenticity of the birth certificate but found that there were two “official” certificates in the Dominican Republic. The documents were uncovered by a Dominican reporter.

Almonte, the Bronx team’s star player, was an excellent left-handed pitcher who led his team to the LLWS semifinals in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for the 2001 season. Almonte’s fastballs were clocked at around 70 miles per hour. His team finished third in the series after a 2-0 victory over the team from State College, Pennsylvania; it was a game in which Almonte struck out sixteen. In total, Almonte struck out forty-six batters in Williamsburg.

Almonte seemed mentally sharper than his peers, and he towered above them at 5 feet 8 inches. He was such a phenomenon that coaches in the league grew suspicious of his age. Some even hired private investigators to check on their Bronx rivals. The Associated Press reported on September 4 that these investigations revealed nothing irregular. However, it was revealed that Almonte had not attended school in New York City. Even with the suspicions of rival coaches, Almonte and his teammates received several accolades, including a victory parade in the Bronx and the keys to the city.

Danny Almonte pitching in the 2001 Little League World Series.

(AP/Wide World Photos)

The two birth certificates found in the Dominican Republic were identical, except for one fact: the year of birth. Both certificates were for a child named Danny Almonte. Both indicated that he was born to the same parents, had the same government identification numbers, and was born on the same month and day—April 7. One handwritten certificate filed in the town of Moca gave 1987 as the year of birth for the baby boy, weighing six pounds. The later document, which was typed, showed 1989 as the child’s birth year. Both documents had been filed by Almonte’s father, Felipe Almonte. The maximum age for Little League players is twelve years. To be eligible to play in the 2001 series, players could not have been born before August 1, 1988. Had Almonte been born in 1987, the question on everyone’s minds, he would have been too old to play.

The Sports Sports Illustrated (magazine) Illustrated writers presented their findings to league officials in late August, 2001. Their article, “One for the Ages,” was published in the magazine’s September 3 issue but posted to its Web site on August 27. The Almonte scandal officially broke.

Sonia Rojas Breton, Almonte’s birth mother, who lived in the Dominican Republic, defended the 1989 date. She provided baby pictures and her copy of the birth certificate to support her story. According to The New York Times, Breton said that she lived in Jamao and that months after Almonte’s birth she moved to Moca. She asserted that the 1987 birth certificate was for Danny’s brother, Juan, born in 1987. Other records, however, indicate that Juan was born December 15, not April 7, in Jamao al Norte. Danny Almonte’s 1987 birth certificate was filed in 1994 and the 1989 birth certificate was filed in early 2000, shortly before Almonte and his father entered the United States. Almonte’s family in Moca claimed that the 1987 birth certificate with Danny’s name was fraudulent.

Paulino protested that the scrutiny concerning Almonte’s age reflected prejudice against foreigners and poor sportsmanship. Furthermore, in what later appeared to be an effort to conceal Almonte’s school records, his mother claimed that he had been educated by a friend at that friend’s home. However, others in the town were proud to tell reporters that Almonte had attended a local elementary school, Escuela Primaria Andres Bello. The school’s vice principal said that Almonte had completed the seventh grade.

A Dominican records official, Victor Romero, also investigated. He interviewed witnesses and examined the birth certificates of both Danny and his older brother Juan and other documents in Moca and Jamao al Norte. Contradictions surfaced regarding the later document. However, Romero did find documentation at Dr. Toribio Bencosme Hospital in Moca to support the 1987 birth date. A Dominican government official in charge of public records announced that the later birth certificates (for both Danny and Juan) were fraudulent. Danny was born April 7, 1987, and Juan was born in 1985. The same official also announced that the Almonte brothers’ father would be charged with falsifying a document and that Danny’s birth mother also could face charges.

Moca district attorney Juan Alberto Mendez charged Almonte’s father and a mayoral staffer with falsifying the birth certificates of the Almonte brothers so that both of them could play baseball. Felipe Almonte would likely be arrested and given a five-year prison sentence if he returned to the Dominican Republic. He also faced sanctions in the United States for failing to enroll his son in school for more than one year. Furthermore, Felipe’s tourist visa, used to enter the United States, had expired in late 2000. Danny Almonte’s stepmother appealed to both the United States and Dominican Republic governments for mercy in the case.

In June, 2002, Almonte graduated from Bronx Middle School 52. He attended James Monroe High School, played varsity baseball, and graduated in 2006. Before graduating he married Rosy Perdomo, a thirty-year-old hair stylist and mother of a twelve-year-old son. They initially settled in the South Bronx.

Impact

The Little League charter committee required that Almonte’s team forfeit its wins, including the team’s third place in the series, for the 2001 season. Almonte’s no-hitter was struck from the records as well. The Rolando Paulino All Stars were allowed to continue as a team, but became the second team in Little League history to be stripped after reaching the semifinals. The team from Zamboanga City, Philippines, had been disqualified after its 1992 tournament win for including players from another district.

The Little League president at the time of the Almonte scandal avoided blaming Almonte. He instead blamed the adults in his life, including his father. Felipe Almonte and Paulino were banned for life from Little League baseball. Paulino had seen similar trouble years before. In 1988, his Dominican Little League team had been disqualified from a regional tournament when six players were found to be overage. In the Almonte case, however, he claimed that he was not at fault but a victim of deception by the player’s father.

After the scandal, Little League Baseball began to closely scrutinize the age and residency of each player or potential player. The league now requires that birth certificates must have been filed within thirty days of a player’s date of birth, or that the player provide substantial alternative verification of birth date and place. Also, players must be citizens of the country they represent or be in that country on a legal visa. Dominican Republic Almonte, Danny Baseball;Little League Little League Baseball Paulino, Rolando

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Hermoso, Rafael, and Lara Petusky Coger. “Almonte Faces Arrest—His Wife Seeks Mercy.” The New York Times, September 6, 2001. News story that discusses what happened to Almonte’s family after the boy’s age was determined.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Llosa, Luis Fernando. “Awkward Age.” Sports Illustrated, May 29, 2006. Magazine article that details Almonte’s life several years after the scandal. Also reports on his marriage to a thirty-year-old hair stylist, which placed him in the media’s spotlight once again.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">McFadden, Robert D. “Star Is 14, So Bronx Team Is Disqualified.” The New York Times, September 1, 2001. An excellent summary of how events unfolded immediately after the Little League Baseball World Series.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Thomsen, Ian, and Luis Fernando Llosa. “One for the Ages.” Sports Illustrated, September 3, 2001, The magazine article that broke the scandal. This article was posted to the Sports Illustrated Web site on August 27.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Wong, Edward, and Jean-Michel Caroit. “Parents of Bronx Ace Insist Their Son Is 12.” The New York Times, August 30, 2001. Discusses how Almonte’s family lied about the ages of Danny and Juan.

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