55 Central dispute resolved
By Jeff McGaw, MSBL On-Line
A ruling by MSBL officials has ended one of the longest-running disputes in MSBL World Series history and should serve as a cautionary tale for managers entering teams in future tournaments.
The decision resolves a protest filed after the 55 Central Division finals at the 2011 World Series. Under the ruling, the D.C. Classics were named champions and the Chicago North Indians were named co-champions. In issuing the ruling MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler noted that while a tournament rule was violated, the violation was the result of careless record keeping and not an attempt to gain an unfair advantage. "Ethics are not in question here,” Sigler said. "Managers need to be diligent in checking drivers' licenses to verify the age of their players,” Sigler cautioned.
The dispute began Oct. 22, 2011 after Chicago North Indians defeated the D.C. Classics 6-1 at Goodyear Stadium. Indians' pitcher Billy Alvarez earned the complete-game win and was named the team's tournament MVP. The Classics protested claiming that Alvarez was 54 years old, not 55.
Although Alvarez' Illinois driver's license showed him to be 54 years old at the time, the Indians claimed that Alvarez, a Cuban immigrant, was actually 55. They said further that U.S. immigration officials had erred on paperwork upon his entering the country, and then produced a Cuban birth certificate showing that Alvarez was actually 55.
The Classics countered that the authenticity of the Cuban document could not be verified, and argued further that U.S. government records, primarily Alvarez's drivers' license, should be used to settle the dispute. MSBL tournament officials ultimately reached the same conclusion.
Ironically, several players on the D.C. Classics roster were under the age of 55, but the team had requested and received exemptions for those players to participate. The Indians, unaware of the age violation, had neither requested nor received any such exemption for Alvarez.