A suburban coach who called for the initial investigation into the Jackie Robinson West Little League team said he has received several death threats in light of the league's decision Wednesday to strip the team of its national title.
Chris Janes, the vice president of the Evergreen Park Athletic Association who prompted the initial investigation into the team's alleged residency violations in December, said he received more than 40 phone calls Wednesday from people he doesn't know who criticized him for opening the investigation. He said some of the phone calls included cursing and one caller said, "I hope you die." Janes said it went so far that he and his wife felt they needed to change their phone number.
Janes filed the initial complaint after he became aware that some players were being celebrated as hometown heroes in the suburbs, where they lived. The fact that these players were on a Chicago team violated the residency rules, he said.
"It was evident to us that there was some wrongdoing and there's rules in place," Janes said. "As tough as it must have been for Little League, they needed to hold these guys accountable for breaking the rules."
Despite the backlash, Janes stands by his decision, but he said he understands why many people do not.
"We all fell in love with this team, people are emotionally attached to the team and I really truly get that," Janes said.
Late last year, Little League International said it was confident there were no violations of residency regulations after investigating Janes' complaint. The decision made Wednesday was based on "new information," league officials said.
"This is a heartbreaking decision," the organization's president and CEO, Stephen D. Keener, said in a statement. "What these players accomplished on the field and the memories and lessons they have learned during the Little League World Series tournament is something the kids can be proud of, but it is unfortunate that the actions of adults have led to this outcome."