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Whatever Happened to Danny Almonte: The Greatest Little League Pitcher Of All Time?

 

Danny Almonte was allegedly born on August 7th, 1989 in Moca, Domincan Republic. I say “allegedly” because that’s the right word for it. More on that in a bit.

If you’re not a follower of the Little League World Series (or sports in general), you may not be familiar with this name. He made waves at the 2001 LLWS, in which he threw a no-hitter, striking out 16 batters. He then went on to throw the first perfect game in the LLWS since 1957. His fastball was clocked at 75 mph, which roughly equates to a 98 mph fastball from a Major League pitcher (LLWS distance from mound to home is 46 feet, whereas MLB is 60 feet, 6 inches).

Keep in mind these kids are between the ages of 11 and 13. I played baseball up until high school, and I can’t imagine facing a kid around my age throwing heat like that. I would’ve John Kruk’d it, no question.

If any of this is ringing a bell, then you probably know what happened after Almonte’s team was eliminated from the LLWS (because by rule he couldn’t pitch every game). By his last game in the LLWS, Almonte struck out 62 batters. He faced 72 total. One of those batters was hit by a pitch. How do you think THAT kid felt the next day?

After everyone went nuts over this kid, rumors started spreading that he wasn’t as young as he (and his father) led everyone to believe. After some digging by a couple Sports Illustrated reporters at the civil records building in Moca (where Almonte’s family lived until a move to New York in 2000), documents were found that stated he was born in 1987, not 1989 like his father claimed. This means that he was in fact 14 years old, which meant he was too old to be eligible to play in the LLWS. Let’s not overlook the fact that even though he was 14, he was still legitimately throwing 75 mph. For some perspective, in 2012 MLB  pitcher (non-knuckle baller) Jamie Moyer gave up two runs in 7 innings against the Padres and didn’t crack 80 mph on any of his 87 pitches.

Almonte’s father and mother insisted he was born in 1989. Basically they pulled the ol’ crayon-and-picture-birth-certificate-trick:

Naturally he and his Bronx New York team were stricken from the record books, and Almonte’s father received a lifetime ban from any Little League-related activities. No word on whether or not he returned the key to the city given by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, but they probably just changed the locks.

After more dirt was dug up on Almonte’s age, it was found that he hadn’t been enrolled in school for the 2000-2001 year, which would have made him ineligible for the LLWS even if he was of age.

Once the dust settled and the media moved on from the story (as they always do), Almonte went on to pitch for James Monroe High School in the Bronx, after a brief stay in Miami where he wasn’t able to play due to residency restrictions.

In 2005, he was back in the news again after rumors spread that he had married an older woman. The rumor was confirmed in May 2006 when he announced he was married to 30-year old Rosy Perdomo. As far as I could tell, no one investigated her age. Almonte would have been 19 at the time if facts hold true.

He continued playing baseball throughout the next few years playing on an independent minor-league team in Illinois, and then enrolling as a freshman for Western Oklahoma State where he pitched and played right field. By the end of the season he was one of the top hitters in JUCO baseball, batting .497 with 14 home runs and going 7-1 with one save as a pitcher. The next year he went .472 with 18 homers and a pitching record of 9-0. He went undrafted.

Almonte went on to play semi-pro ball as an outfielder in 2009 after being forced to give up pitching due to a sore arm. 2010 saw him return to the Bronx where he became a volunteer coach to his alma mater. He had stated that he’d like to return to semi-pro ball, but has given up on trying to reach the majors. He’ll be 27 years old next month.

Here’s what he looks like today:

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Nick Hershey

The author Nick Hershey

Nick was born and raised in Amish country, has a beard, but isn’t Amish. He’s a fan of winter as long as he’s at the top of a mountain with a board under his feet. He’s an avid sports fan, movie junkie, tv bum, and music enthusiast who still purchases CDs for some reason.