Random Athlete Of The Day- Danny Almonte
Danny Almonte is not just another “Random Athlete of the Day,” he is a legend and a childhood baseball hero. And like most of those heroes: Lance Armstrong, O.J. Simpson, Michael Vick, Barry Bonds, Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, among others…he was an awesome fraud.
Almonte played for the Rolando Paulino Little League All-Stars, also known as the “Baby Bombers” in the 2001 Little League World Series. Just to make it clear, they earned the nickname in reference to the “Bronx Bombers,” the nickname has nothing to do with hurting babies. To put everything in perspective, this was a time when the Little League World Series actually meant something, when I was ten years old. We were immediately fixated with Almonte because he was unbelievably dominant. The 5-9 pitcher struck out batters left and right, forcing hitters to whiff on fastballs that were flirting with the equivalence of 100 MPH in the majors. He threw a 16-strikeout no-hitter, a 14-stikeout one-hitter, and threw the first perfect game in the Little League World Series since 1957. Unfortunately because of LLWS regulations, Almonte could not pitch in the Finals because he pitched a complete game the day before, and the Rolando Paulino Little League All-Stars sadly lost.
Despite the World Series loss, the phenom was given a key to the city by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and was still under heavy suspicion that he was not 12. Two teams hired private investigators but that failed. Then Sports Illustrated did an investigation and found evidence that he was in fact, older. This triggered an investigation by Little League who also discovered he was born in 1987 and not 1989.
After he was proven a fraud his father was sent to the Dominican, but Almonte stayed in the States and continued to play baseball peaking with a low-to-mid 80s fastball. In high school he helped lead James Monroe to two City Championships and later continued his career at Western Oklahoma State. In his first season he hit .497 and 14 home runs, while going 7-1 as a pitcher. In his second year there he continued his dominance with a .472 batting average and 18 homeruns, and as a pitcher he finished with 9-0 record. Despite his small-school success, Almonte was not drafted by a Major League team.
He quit pitching after suffering from a sore arm but still played competitively in semi-pro baseball until 2009. In 2010 Almonte returned to his alma mater and served as a volunteer assistant coach for the James Monroe baseball team.
Outside The Lines did a great piece called the “Revenge of the Baseball Gods,” but I think it’s that time for Almonte to get his own 30/30.
Just for the record, before I hit 11 it went:
- Danny Almonte
- Pablo Sanchez
- Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez