Four months later, the fallout from the Danny Almonte episode is still being felt. Last month Little League's international headquarters in Williamsport, Pa., sent a series of stringent new player-eligibility guidelines to leagues around the world. Parents of prospective players must now provide a birth certificate that was issued within 30 days of the child's birth. Absent that, no fewer than five additional documents supporting the child's birth date, such as a notarized statement from the delivering doctor or a hospital certificate, must be provided. As DeEtte Kapustka, president of the Salmon Creek Little League in Vancouver, Wash., bluntly says, "This is ridiculous."
The problem, as Kapustka and other local Little League administrators see it, is that marshaling so many documents may be beyond the abilities of many parents in the U.S., not to mention for parents in countries where records are less meticulously kept. Based on the new guidelines, Kapustka is not even sure her own son will be able to play this year, because his birth certificate was filed 44 days after his birth. In addition, all the extra red tape is likely to overwhelm local administrators. " Little League is mostly run by volunteers," says Kapustka. "It puts a huge burden on all of us to make sure all the documentation is in order."
Little League officials say this is the only way to prevent cheating. "Yes, there's more paperwork, but it's still easy to get the necessary documents," says league spokesman Lance Van Auken. "Some said we of should apply this only to the kids who come from overseas, but there's no way we're going to do that. Whatever we do, we have to do across the board."