Amid the near-death penalty Jackie Robinson West suffered Wednesday at the hands of Little League International is another shoe waiting to drop.
JRW received a financial windfall of contributions from all over the country. Big-league players, sports executives, major retailers and just plain enthusiastic fans stocked a youth baseball program with riches inconceivable going into last August.
Dick’s Sporting Goods alone chipped in $165,000 from the sale of JRW T-shirts at its outlet just south of Chicago’s downtown. JRW treasurer Bill Haley said that before this past season, his annual operating budget was around $52,000. He typically raised that amount by a modest margin from small donors like the 34th Ward office and a local barber shop.
Dick’s also talked with Haley about a coaches’ development program in which the company would have a continuing involvement with the league.
JRW parents were told some of the contributions were specifically earmarked toward the families. Venisa Beasley-Green, mother of JRW catcher Brandon Green, had even talked with an attorney about setting up a non-profit, 501 3-C college scholarship program. The younger Green already had higher education on his mind, taking high-school credits as an eighth grader at Kenwood Academy. His mother projected Green would take college credits by his junior year in high school that could defray college tuition costs down the line.
But Green said she has not yet seen any of those funds earmarked for the families. And with Haley and mother Annie Haley, widow of JRW founder Joseph Haley, ousted by Little League International from further stewardship of the program, determining the status of all that incoming cash will be a challenge for those who take control of the tainted program.