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Little League Pays Boy to Go Away

May 09, 1997|From Associated Press

FRESNO — An 11-year-old boy wants to play baseball, but instead he's getting $1,235.20.

After some wrangling in court, a judge gave Spartan Little League officials two choices: Either let Peter C. Lang play with the league's Major Giants or pay the boy compensatory and punitive damages plus court costs. The league's board of directors chose to pay and said Wednesday the check was on its way.

But it's not the money that Peter wants.

"I really just wanted a chance to play with my friends," he said.

The controversy started in March when Peter was invited to practice with the team by a former coach because some players were not showing up for practices.

Later, the boy's father approached the league's vice president, Elaine Robertson, and paid the $40 registration fee for his son to play for the Giants. But the league's president, Reno Jarrell, said the boy could not be on the team because he missed the registration deadline.

He said Robertson mistakenly thought Peter already was registered and his father was making a late payment.

The league offered an alternative.

"We said, 'We made a mistake, let him play in another team,' but the parents said he wanted to play with his friends," Jarrell said.

But Peter's parents, Tom and Aletha Lang, filed a lawsuit in small claims court, and Judge Jane A. York ordered the league to make a play-or-pay choice.

Jarrell said the board's unanimous decision to pay was to protect the integrity of the rules established to give every child an equal chance to play.

"I told Jarrell I would back up whatever his board decided," said Ed Martinez, commissioner of Spartan League, which is not part of the Little League.

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