In case you haven't turned on ESPN recently, the Little League World Series is happening right now. We are down to the Sweet 16, with eight international teams and eight U.S. teams. I'm personally pulling for team Europe-Africa; a team representing two continents is the unifier the world needs right now. Unfortunately, Illinois' team did not make it very far this year. Here's the link to the schedule for the rest of the tournament—it lasts all the way to next Sunday.
In my lifetime, the two most memorable Little League World Series stories have been Mo'ne Davis and Danny Almonte. In 2014, Davis electrified the baseball world when she became the first girl to earn a win (a three-hit shutout) in the Little League World Series. The semifinal game she pitched in still holds as the highest rated LLWS game in ESPN's history.
However, when I was growing up, Danny Almonte was king. It was impossible to be a kid in 2001 and not be captivated by the huge lefty fireballer from the Bronx. Almonte topped out at 76 mph, which was equivalent to 99 mph for a major league hitter because of the shorter distance between home and the mound. Amazingly, he struck out 62 of the 72 batters (82%!!!) he faced in the 2001 LLWS tournament.
To send his team to Williamsport, Almonte pitched a no-hitter. Four days later in Williamsport, he did one better and threw a perfect game. Largely because of Almonte's efforts, the New York Little League team made it to the U.S. championship game before losing a game that he was unable to pitch because of pitch limits. As he gained fame for his unbelievable performances, rumors started to swirl that Danny was older than his team claimed. Almonte and his family insisted that he was 12 years old with a birth date of April 7, 1989. Two weeks after the tournament concluded, Sports Illustrated broke the story.
According to birth records in Almonte's native Domincan Republic, he was born on April 7, 1987, making him ineligible for Little League. His team, the Rolando Paulino All-Stars of the Bronx, was forced to forfeit all their wins. Almonte's records were erased from the record books. The media scrutiny of his father, Felipe, and coach, Rolando Paulino, was severe; Danny didn't speak English at the time and was unaware of the rules he was breaking.
Almonte continued his baseball career after the 2001 LLWS. After going undrafted out of high school, he pitched for the Southern Illinois Minors of the Frontier League (an indy ball team out of Marion, IL) and then later Western Oklahoma State College (community college). Almonte's strength switched from pitching to hitting; in two years at the community college, he hit 32 homers and batted over .470. He would never play any further, however.