APACHE JUNCTION, AZ - The Apache Junction Little League team known as "The Hooks" have been terminated from this baseball season ... and parents are furious.
The League's governing board accused the team's coaches of rigging the player draft system in their favor so they could get some of the best players. The team denies it, and the 8, 9 and 10-year-old players say they're tired of being harassed for being too good.
"I just think they're jealous and they want to make up stories," Hooks' player Gavin Limongello said.
"Our whole family doesn't like being called cheaters," another Hooks' player Gibson Limongello said. "We're being called liars too."
This kids' baseball team being called a bunch of cheaters isn't sitting well with moms and dads who are outraged their kids' baseball season is ruined after a month of practices. The team hasn't played in real games yet.
Apache Junction's Little League Board held a meeting Friday night to inform upset parents their kids will have to join other teams if they want to play this season.
Parents told ABC 15 their children are depressed. They worry breaking the little players away from all of the friends they've made takes away all of the fun.
"That's all that should matter. Not the competition side. For crying out loud, my kid is 9," mother Michelle Johnson said.
On April 1, The Apache Junction Little League Board issued the following statement in response to this story:
In Little League, one of the responsibilities of the governing board members to maintain the integrity of the league. The Apache Junction bylaws state, "Membership may be terminated by resignation or action of the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors, by a two-thirds vote of those present at any duly constituted meeting, shall have the authority to discipline or terminate the membership of any Member of any class when the conduct of such person is considered detrimental to the interests of the local League and/or Little League Baseball." Based on the above bylaw, a unanimous decision was made with the support of District 7 to terminate the membership of two coaches, with a third coach voluntarily resigning. The decision made affected coaches only; all players remain members of the league and are encouraged to continue to play. For players affected, provisions have been made. Refunds will be issued to those requesting them by Friday of this week. Apache Junction Little appreciates the continued support of our community