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Northridge Catcher Unmasked Because He Lives Out of Area

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Catcher Jonathan Higashi of Northridge Little League has been disqualified from the Western Regional tournament after an anonymous letter sent to Little League headquarters in Williamsport, Pa., revealed he lives outside the Northridge Little League boundaries.

Higashi did not play Friday in Northridge’s 14-2 victory over Anchorage, Alaska, and Northridge will not have to forfeit any games.

Little League rules stipulate that a team must forfeit its previous game if an ineligible player is discovered.

However, only the team last defeated by the offending team may lodge the protest.

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Whittier, which Northridge defeated in last week’s division final, could have protested up until Friday’s game began.

This explains why the entire Northridge rooting contingent breathed a collective sigh of relief when the first pitch was thrown.

Merle Sanders, administrator of District 40, of which Northridge belongs, did not contact Whittier after receiving word of the letter from Western Regional director Carlton E. Magee.

“I investigated and discovered the allegation to be true,” he said. “The boy’s father voluntarily removed the player from the team.

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“I asked myself, what is my moral duty? Based upon the way the rules are structured, my knowledge can’t be used (by Whittier).”

Northridge Manager Larry Baca said he had no idea where Higashi lives.

This was Higashi’s first season in the Northridge Little League. He previously played in an independent league in Chatsworth.

On the eligibility affidavit turned in by Northridge at the beginning of tournament play more than a month ago, Higashi’s address was listed improperly, indicating that somebody within the league knew of the problem.

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“Certainly there are adults who don’t grasp what Little League baseball is all about,” Sanders said.

Higashi was told Wednesday that he would not play in the regional.

“I was pretty sad and started crying,” said Higashi, who had started every game at catcher.


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