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Manteca Little League fate is in hands of Williamsport officials

The decision about what will happen to Manteca Little League after it was discovered that a 12-year-old team currently bound for the TOCs skirted the draft process will come from the top – the Little League International office in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

A statement from Little League’s governing authority on Tuesday spelled out that the organization is aware of the issue and is currently working to determine the best course of action moving forward for all involved parties.

“Little League International is aware of the situation regarding the Manteca Little League’s regular season player draft and selection process,” the statement, sent by Little League Director of Media Relations Kevin Fountain, read. “We are currently working through our Regional Staff, with input from the local league and district volunteers, to fully review the situation, which has been referred to the Little League International Charter Committee.”

The issue came to a head this past weekend when Brodie Downs – the coach of the Major Dodgers team in question – was notified by the Interim President of Manteca Little League that his team would not be eligible for proceeding beyond the regular season in the district-level Tournament of Champions.

That decision came from District 67, which oversees Manteca Little League, and was presented with notification that it cannot be appealed.

Downs, who came to the Manteca Little League board before the season began with a proposition to bring nine players from Ripon, asking that they all be placed on his team, denies any intentional wrongdoing even though the proposal bypassed strict Little League regulations that govern the way that players must be assigned to teams.

The President that approved his request has since stepped down, and the board has since been working closely with District personnel to resolve the matter. A request for comment or clarification from the district on the matter was referred to Little League International.

The charter that allows Manteca Little League to function as an affiliate of the international organization could be in jeopardy as a result of the matter, and the committee that will determine the decision as to whether the organization gets to keep its charter is now investigating the matter.

“The Charter Committee will review all of the information, as it’s presented by the local officials, and work through them to provide the appropriate next steps,” the statement read. “Any decision regarding this matter will be communicated directly to the Manteca Little League.”

While the postseason hopes for the first-place team at the heart of the matter have been dashed, the future of postseason play for the individual members of the team has not yet been clarified.

While the Tournament of Champions, which crowns a district title to whole teams that finish in first place in their respective league and make it through a tournament against other teams in the district, it is the All-Star team that is selected by each league that advanced on to play through with hopes of making it to the crown jewel of youth baseball – The Little League World Series. Teams that are lucky enough to advance to that level play their games in Williamsport.

Little League rules require that all players on a given team must be picked through a draft process where all players – except the child of a head coach, if applicable – are available to be selected. According to Downs, only three of the players on his 12-man team were placed as a result of the draft. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.