While you may not know this name, Danny Almonte has one of the craziest stories in baseball history. I’m not going to give away too much in this introduction, but his story and scandal made national headlines in the early 2000s.
Danny Almonte was born in the Dominican Republic in 1987 and moved to the Bronx in the year 2000 and instantly took a liking to playing Little League baseball. Back in the Dominican, his father had gotten him into the sport and even begun a league back there. In 2001, Almonte was a sensation for his team in little league ball.
Before he was even a teenager, Almonte was able to pitch at over 75 mph and stood an imposing 5’8 and was even nicknamed the “Little Unit” (a play on Randy Johnson’s “Big Unit” nickname that stems from his height). Not only was he imposing and could throw hard, he was an absolute phenom out there on the mound. He threw a no-hitter in a game in 2001 that qualified his team for the Little League World Series and Almonte was about to be a star.
Right from the beginning of the Little League World Series, he was clearly something special. He threw the first perfect game in the World Series since 1979, which put everyone on notice. However, the team he threw the perfect game against ultimately got the last laugh as they defeated Almonte’s Bronx team in the U.S Championship, as Almonte wasn’t allowed to pitch as he had threw a complete game the day before.
He concluded the tournament with 62 strikeouts on 72 batters, allowed only three hits in three games and one unearned run. Almonte and his team were the feel good story of the Little League World series and were even given a key to the city of New York. However, things were about to go real bad for Almonte.
Because of his size, skill and velocity, there were a ton of concerns during (and even before) the World Series that Almonte was actually older than 12 (which is the oldest a player can be). After numerous investigations, interviews, articles and stories talked about this (and it became national news for weeks) it was finally revealed that Almonte wasn’t as young as he said he was and was actually 14, which made him ineligible for the tournament and ruined the feel good story of the year.
Now, while this lie was awful and he shouldn’t have done it, the guy was still a great player. Over the next few years, Almonte bounced around the country playing ball and played extremely well during college. There were even some rumblings about him getting drafted into the MLB, but he never ended up playing pro ball. He continued to play around the country in college and semi-pro baseball and eventually moved back to the Bronx to become a coach.
This was without a doubt one of the biggest stories in Little League World Series history and the conclusion of it was shocking to everyone in the baseball world.