Danny Almonte
Danny Almonte Rojas is an assistant baseball coach at James Monroe High School
James Monroe High School (New York)
For schools with a similar name, see James Monroe High School.James Monroe High School was a comprehensive high school located at 1300 Boynton Avenue and E 172nd Street in the Soundview section of the Bronx....

 in New York City. Almonte was born in Moca, Dominican Republic
Moca, Dominican Republic
Moca is the capital of Espaillat province in the Dominican Republic.Moca is located 11 miles/18 kilometers away from the country’s second biggest city, Santiago De Los Caballeros. Moca is also known for its many great crops and friendly people....

. A former Little League
Little League
Little League Baseball and Softball is a non-profit organization in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, United States which organizes local youth baseball and softball leagues throughout the U.S...

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throwsthe baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the...

, he became the subject of considerable media attention in 2001. Considered a phenomenon as he led his Bronx team to a third-place finish in the 2001 Little League World Series
2001 Little League World Series
-Pool play:The top two teams in each pool moved on to the elimination round.August 17August 18August 19August 20August 21-International:August 17August 18August 19August 20August 21-Elimination rounds:-Champions path:...

, Almonte was revealed to have actually been two years too old to play Little League baseball. Although there were many allegations during the 2001 Series, the truth was not revealed until weeks later.

Little League phenomenon

In 2000, Danny moved to the Bronx, where he began playing Little League baseball. His father, Felipe, who had moved to the United States six years earlier, had begun a youth baseball league in Moca that still bears his name.

With his high leg kick and a fastball
The fastball is the most common type of pitch in baseball. Some "power pitchers," such as Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, have thrown it at speeds of 95–106 mph and up to 108.1 mph , relying purely on speed to prevent the ball from being hit...

 that reached a top speed of 75 miles per hour (the equivalent, for that distance, of a 98 mph major-league fastball), the 5-foot-8 Danny soon became a sensation. His imposing frame won him the nickname "Little Unit," a nod to Randy "Big Unit" Johnson
Randy Johnson
Randall David Johnson , nicknamed "The Big Unit", is a former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher. During a 22-year career, he pitched for six different teams....

. He threw a no-hitter
A no-hitter is a baseball game in which one team has no hits. In Major League Baseball, the team must be without hits during the entire game, and the game must be at least nine innings. A pitcher who prevents the opposing team from achieving a hit is said to have "thrown a no-hitter"...

 in the 2001 Mid-Atlantic Regional finals against State College, Pennsylvania
State College, Pennsylvania
State College is the largest borough in Centre County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is the principal city of the State College, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Centre County. As of the 2010 census, the borough population was 42,034, and roughly double...

, sending his team to the Little League World Series.

In a round-robin game four days later, Danny also threw the first perfect game
Perfect game
A perfect game is defined by Major League Baseball as a game in which a pitcher pitches a victory that lasts a minimum of nine innings and in which no opposing player reaches base. Thus, the pitcher cannot allow any hits, walks, hit batsmen, or any opposing player to reach base safely for any...

 in the Little League World Series since 1957, against the team from Apopka, Florida
Apopka, Florida
Apopka is a city located in Orange County, Florida, United States. The population was 26,969 at the 2000 census. According to the U.S Census estimates of 2006, the city grew to 53,563. It is part of the Orlando–Kissimmee Metropolitan Statistical Area. Apopka is an Indian word for “Potato...

. However, his team was defeated by the same Florida team in the U.S. championship game (Almonte could not pitch in the championship game under Little League rules, as he had pitched a complete game the day before). He finished the 2001 tournament, held in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania
South Williamsport, Pennsylvania
South Williamsport is a borough in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 6,412 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Williamsport, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

, with 62 strikeout
In baseball or softball, a strikeout or strike-out occurs when a batter receives three strikes during his time at bat. A strikeout is a statistic recorded for both pitchers and batters....

s (out of 72 batters faced), giving up only three hits in three starts, and only one unearned run. His team, nicknamed "the Baby Bombers" because they played in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, was the feel-good story of the Little League World Series, and were honored before a New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

 game shortly after the series. They also received the key to the city from Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani
Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani KBE is an American lawyer, businessman, and politician from New York. He served as Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001....


Concerns about age

Danny's imposing appearance and command on the mound led to rumors that he was more than 12 years old. A team from Staten Island
Staten Island
Staten Island is a borough of New York City, New York, United States, located in the southwest part of the city. Staten Island is separated from New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull, and from the rest of New York by New York Bay...

 hired a private investigator to look into the ages of the entire team. A similar investigation was conducted by a team from Pequannock Township, New Jersey
Pequannock Township, New Jersey
Pequannock Township is a Township in Morris County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the township population was 13,888....

. Neither turned up any evidence that the players were too old. Rolando Paulino, the league president, adamantly insisted that Danny had in fact been born on April 7, 1989. Paulino was initially backed by Little League and Dominican officials, who said the Baby Bombers had followed all proper procedures regarding age verification. Officials at Little League headquarters even took the unusual step of checking each of the player documents due to the rumors surrounding the team. Little League officials had increased scrutiny of player eligibility after the 1992 Series
1992 Little League World Series
The 1992 Little League World Series took place between August 24 and August 29 in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.The Little League baseball team representing Zamboanga City won its way through national trials, the Far East series, and after brushing aside the competition at the Little League...

, in which the champions from Zamboanga City
Zamboanga City
The City of Zamboanga : is a highly urbanized, independent and a chartered city located in Mindanao, Philippines....

 in The Philippines were stripped of their title due to a large number of out-of-district and overage players.

Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

reporters went to the civil records building in Moca two weeks after the end of the Little League World Series. They discovered a notation in the birth ledger showing that in 1994, Felipe Almonte had registered his son's birth date as April 7, 1987 at Dr. Toribio Bencosme Hospital. It is very common for Dominican parents to wait years before registering the birth of a child.

Their report, posted on the magazine's web site just before being published, triggered a full investigation by Little League, even as Almonte and his teammates were being feted in the Bronx. His mother, Sonia Rojas Breton, owned a handwritten birth certificate saying that he had been born at home in Jamao with the help of a midwife
Midwifery is a health care profession in which providers offer care to childbearing women during pregnancy, labour and birth, and during the postpartum period. They also help care for the newborn and assist the mother with breastfeeding....

 in 1989. She had registered Danny's 1989 birth date in 2000.

Both of Almonte's parents, though separated, insisted their son was born in 1989, condemning the other documents as false. Felipe Almonte appeared on Good Morning America
Good Morning America
Good Morning America is an American morning news and talk show that is broadcast on the ABC television network; it debuted on November 3, 1975. The weekday program airs for two hours; a third hour aired between 2007 and 2008 exclusively on ABC News Now...

at the time of the investigation, proclaiming his son's innocence.

Almonte's real age

As part of Dominican officials' investigation, Victor Romero, head of the national public records office, interviewed the witnesses whose signatures appeared on the 1989 birth certificate. They both denied knowing Rojas or Felipe Almonte, let alone signing the certificate. On August 31, Romero announced that Danny had in fact been born in 1987.

As a result, Danny was retroactively declared ineligible, and the Baby Bombers had to forfeit all their wins in tournament play. All of their records were removed from the books, and the team was required to demonstrate compliance with all regulations before entering the 2002 tournament. Felipe Almonte was banned from Little League competition for life. Paulino was also banned, since Little League rules make the league president responsible for player eligibility. Dominican prosecutors filed criminal charges against Felipe Almonte for falsifying a birth certificate. Danny, who did not speak English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 at the time, apparently knew nothing about the falsified documents, and was cleared of wrongdoing. Little League president Stephen Keener said that Danny and his teammates had been "used ... in a most contemptible and despicable way" and that "millions of Little Leaguers around the world were deceived." ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

's Jim Caple
Jim Caple
Jim Caple is a columnist and senior writer for ESPN.com. He has worked previously with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and St. Paul Pioneer Press.Caple attended R.A...

 called Felipe Almonte "the worst stereotype of the Little League parent sprung to life.". Danny's godmother later begged forgiveness, saying that "we had to commit this little fraud" to give Danny a chance to compete in a tournament as significant as the Little League World Series.

About the same time, New York City child welfare officials discovered that Danny had not been enrolled in school for the 2000–01 year—which would be a violation of state law, and grounds for placing Danny in foster care
Foster care
Foster care is the term used for a system in which a minor who has been made a ward is placed in the private home of a state certified caregiver referred to as a "foster parent"....

. Danny's registration listed him as attending Public School 70 in the Bronx. However, Dominican school officials said they had records that Danny had actually attended school in the Dominican Republic until June 15. This would have made him ineligible for the Little League World Series even if he had actually been 12 years old. Little League rules require a player to have appeared in at least half of his team's games by June 15 in order to be eligible for the all-star team that competes in the tournament. However, Danny enrolled at Public School 52 in the Bronx in September.


After his father's visa expired, Danny remained in New York under the guardianship of Rolando Paulino. He played, along with four of his former teammates, in the 2004 Public Schools Athletic League championship. In early 2005, Danny moved to the Miami area, where he did not play baseball due to residency requirements. The following year he returned to New York, where he pitched for James Monroe High School
James Monroe High School (New York)
For schools with a similar name, see James Monroe High School.James Monroe High School was a comprehensive high school located at 1300 Boynton Avenue and E 172nd Street in the Soundview section of the Bronx....

 in the Bronx.

In September 2005, Almonte was rumored to have been married to an older woman. This allegation was later confirmed in May 2006 as Almonte proclaimed he was married to 30 year-old Rosy Perdomo.

While in the National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF) wood-bat summer league, he played for Youth Service.

There had been some reports that he would be selected in the 2006
2006 in baseball
-Headline Event of the Year:*The 2006 World Baseball Classic final 4 teams are Japan, Cuba, Korea and the Dominican Republic, with the United States at 3–3 failing to qualify for the semi-finals. Under the leadership of manager Sadaharu Oh and veterans Ichiro Suzuki and Daisuke Matsuzaka, Japan ...

 Major League Baseball draft, though this did not happen. He attended a Major League tryout in October 2006. After the draft he said he would play baseball for a college in New Mexico.

In 2007, Almonte joined the Southern Illinois Miners
Southern Illinois Miners
The Southern Illinois Miners are a professional baseball team based in Marion, Illinois, in the United States. The Miners are a member of the West Division of the Frontier League, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball...

 of the Frontier League
Frontier League
The Frontier League, based in Sauget, Illinois, is a professional, independent baseball organization located in the Midwestern United States, Western Pennsylvania, and Southern Ontario. It operates mostly in cities not served by Major or Minor League Baseball teams and is not affiliated with either...

, an independent minor-league circuit--and thus forfeited his collegiate eligibility. He pitched his first game on May 27, 2007 against the Evansville Otters
Evansville Otters
The Evansville Otters are a professional baseball team based in Evansville, Indiana, in the United States. The Otters are a member of the West Division of the Frontier League, an independent baseball league which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball...

. The Miners lost 3–2. He was released on June 30, 2007. His record was 0–1, with a 5.29 ERA in six appearances. By at least one account, his poor performance was due to him being out of shape at the time.

In fall 2007, Almonte enrolled as a freshman in Western Oklahoma State College
Western Oklahoma State College
Western Oklahoma State College, formerly known as Altus Junior College, is a community college located in Altus, Oklahoma. In 2004 it graduated 272 with associate degrees. Of its 1500 undergraduates, 58 percent are female and 42 percent are male as of 2003...

, a community college in Altus, Oklahoma
Altus, Oklahoma
Altus is a city in Jackson County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 19,813 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Jackson County....

 where he pitched and played right field for the Pioneers. Almonte and the Pioneers were ranked fourth in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 2 poll and advanced to the NJCAA D-2 World Series. Almonte finished as one of the top hitters in JUCO baseball hitting .497 with 14 home runs and going 7–1 with one save as a pitcher. In his second year at the school, Almonte hit .472, with 18 home runs, and had a pitching record of 9-0. Despite those statistics, however, he was not selected by any Major League Baseball organization in the Rule 4 draft.

Forced to give up pitching due to a sore arm, Almonte played semi-pro baseball in the summer of 2009 as an outfielder. As of 2010, Almonte had returned to the Bronx, where he was serving as a volunteer assistant coach for his high school alma mater's baseball team. At that time, he was reportedly no longer with his wife, though he would not discuss details of the relationship. Almonte indicated an intent to return to semi-pro baseball that summer, after the end of the school year, but said that he no longer held expectations of some day playing in the Major Leagues.

External links

  • http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2814073
  • http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports/stories.nsf/othersports/story/42D05A16CCA6AD04862572E40012E64D?OpenDocument
  • http://www.western.cc.ok.us/woscbaseball/09PlayerBios/almonte09.htm
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