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4) "Did [Ian] Tolentino participate in the 1990 Bronco League, which has an age limit of 13? Allegations suggest that Tolentino participated on a team that won the Bronco Series in Tokyo in 1990."
Andaya's answers were satisfactory to all questions except number 3. In answering it, he admitted that eight out-of-area players were used (some, as it turned out, from cities as distant as 700 miles from Zamboanga). In a later letter Andaya explained that the substitutions were made after Zamboanga won the national championship, which had taken place in April, because it appeared that not enough of Zamboanga's players would be available to make the trip to China for the Far East regional. He wrote that the Philippine Little League organization had "encountered problems of obtaining consent from simpleminded parents, especially those in Zamboanga, as they do not understand the significance of the tournaments where their sons are to participate." Andaya explained that some players were afraid to travel so far, that some parents needed their sons at home to help with farm work and that schools, which were in full swing in mid-June in the Philippines, did not allow more than two weeks of absence. The trip to China required at least that much time.
Andaya also admitted that the Zamboangan coach, Eduardo Toribio, had been replaced when Toribio "begged off from going to the Far East Tournament for reasons of private activities." Rodolfo Lugay, who is in charge of the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium in Manila, took Toribio's place. Andaya insisted that all this was done on short notice and with no motive other than to produce a complete team. Furthermore, he insists that as district administrator he was authorized to make these changes and that he had made similar changes in the last five years without comment or penalty.
There are those who claim that these substitutions were doled out as political favors. In the Philippines, of course, it's possible to believe this. "I am aware of our country's reputation," Andaya says. "But I challenge you to discover how my business interests were bettered by my Little League involvement." Indeed, Andaya, who is a flower importer, is not a likely candidate for Mr. Big in this scam; softspoken and unbeguiling, he does not invite suspicion as mastermind of a larger conspiracy. Moreover, in the 10 years he headed up the Filipino Little League, he used his business office as the sport's headquarters and funded many activities, as well as a glossy newsletter, out of his own pocket.
Anyway, says Armand Nocum of the Daily Inquirer, there was no advantage in conspiracy. Nocum, his paper's Zamboanga correspondent, who substantiated some of the charges Mendoza had hinted at, says the team that went to the Far East regional and later to the Little League World Series was no match for the original Zamboanga team. "If they had taken the original team to Williamsport," says Nocum, "it would have beaten the Americans 30-4."
Still, as they say in Williamsport, rules are rules. "And they are quite clear," says Keener. "There are provisions for substituting; however, the players must come from that same league. It's very clear. Mr. Andaya knows those rules as well as anybody."
On Sept. 18, less than two weeks after sending his query, Hale wrote Andaya that the "illegal team from Zamboanga City" must forfeit the championship game and that the runner-up team, Long Beach, would be declared the champion. Andaya immediately quit in protest, saying, "The Americans in Williamsport just could not take it at the hands of the Filipinos. Hence, they scrounged around for some reason to overturn the victory."
In the Philippines the belief remains that Zamboanga was stripped on a technicality, tripped up by a vague rule. "The issue is arguable," insists Lina. "The substitutions are defensible." But what of the subsequent stories, notably the six-part series published by the Daily Inquirer in November suggesting that Andaya's substitutions, well meant or not, were the least of the team's transgressions? What about those persistent stories in the papers that the players were not whom they purported to be, that they were older and had adopted nombres na baseball? That, in fact, all six of the players who were from Zamboanga were impostors who had assumed the personas of younger players from the original Zamboanga team, and that even the imposters' parents had assumed the names of the parents of the boys their sons had replaced? "Oh, that," says Andaya. "That has happened before." An apparent fraud so extensive that the players' classmates, their teachers—their parents!—were drawn into the intrigue? Andaya shrugs at the irrelevance of the charges. "It's possible," he says.
There is a tomb in a cemetery in the village of Manicahan, 14 miles outside of Zamboanga, that seems to honor the tradition of cheating as much as it does the deceased. It is nameless, without date of birth or death. All it proclaims is GOLDEN BOY. The likeness of a baseball is engraved above the lettering.
According to local lore, it was not that there wasn't enough information for a proper inscription, but that there was too much. The Golden Boy, it is said, was Luis Alvarez, a farmer's son who died in a vehicular accident in 1985 when in his 20's. However, he was better known in these parts as Cipriano Alvarez Jr., an identity, complete with a qualifying birth date, that was fabricated by teachers so that Alvarez could play Little League baseball well into his teens. He was perhaps the best Little League player from these parts, certainly one of the oldest. In 1975 Alvarez starred in a Little League competition in Manila. His achievements so stirred the citizens of Manicahan that he was met by a band when he returned home. According to his coach, Pete Columbres, Luis Alvarez was 14 or 15 at the time.