District suspends Newport Beach Little League

Teams listen to the national anthem during the opening day ceremony for the Newport Beach Little League on Saturday.
(Teams listen to the national anthem during the opening day ceremony for the Newport Beach Little League on Saturday.)

Newport Beach Little League, with more than 700 young baseball players, has been suspended by District 55 for having too many coaches on its board, leading to cancellation of games on Thursday and Saturday, said Joe Jennings, an NBLL board member.

The league received word of its error and suspension Wednesday.

“We sent [District 55] a letter [via email Friday morning] explaining that we rectified anything that we knew that possibly could’ve been cause for this extreme action that has been harsh for so many kids and a great organization,” Jennings, a former league president, said.

Little League rules say coaches can’t total more than half the number of people on the board, according to Jennings.

Five NBLL board members resigned after the suspension to comply with the rule, Jennings said.

“It’s really inexplicable,” Jennings said, as to why District 55 reacted so abruptly just after NBLL celebrated its Opening Day on Saturday.

However, NBLL board members knew about the rule and had more coaches on its board than the majority because of a shortage of volunteers, Jennings said.

“Yes, we should’ve been more on top of things and dotted our I’s and crossed our T’s,” Jennings said. “But this is so easily corrected that we didn’t have to impact the kids.”

NBLL, which plays its games at Bonita Canyon Sports Park, discovered Friday afternoon that its games were being canceled again Saturday.

Jennings said the five who resigned from the board were “all great contributors to the league.”

The former NBLL president said District 55 initially sent emails to regional representatives about NBLL’s error and had NBLL on the correspondence on Wednesday.

He said a report from District 55 was also submitted to the regional representatives, but NBLL was not on that correspondence. It’s possible the report could reveal more rules violations.

About an hour later, NBLL received word of its suspension, Jennings said, and the league was told that its insurance for the players was no longer valid and it had to stop play.

“We wanted to show what our league is all about,” Jennings said.

Gregg Olson, a former Major League Baseball relief pitcher who lives in Newport Beach, went to Twitter to ask for help.

He tweeted: “We need help in Newport Beach. Our Little League has been suspended without giving us a cause. We have 800 kids that will not be playing baseball until we can resume. All you media power players, call Tamara Alexander at District 55. We need help!”

Phone calls and an email sent to District 55 have yet to be returned to the Daily Pilot.