CUMBERLAND, R.I. (AP) — The coach whose inspirational speech to his team went viral after they lost in the Little League World Series says they got beat by cheaters and the adults who orchestrated the scheme should be ashamed.
Dave Belisle was manager of the Cumberland American Little League team from Rhode Island that was eliminated from the tournament by Chicago's Jackie Robinson West, 8-7, in August.
After the loss, Belisle gave an emotional speech to team members that went viral. He told them to hold their heads high and to not be disappointed in their effort. Unbeknownst to Belisle, ESPN was recording the speech, and his words consoling the boys — and rallying them — caused a sensation.
"The only reason why I'll probably end up shedding a tear is because this is the last time I'm going to end up coaching you guys," Belisle told them, adding, "It's OK to cry because we're not going to play baseball together anymore. But we're going to be friends forever. Friends forever."
This week, after learning Jackie Robinson West used players from outside league boundaries and was stripped of its national title, Belisle told local news outlets that he feels for the kids in Chicago.
But he had stern words for the adults.
"Shame on the people involved in something like that," he told The Providence Journal.
He said it's clear several people were involved in organizing the scheme. He said they undermined the integrity of Little League baseball and did it for the wrong reason: winning at any cost.
"When you start putting a team together for that reason and that reason only, you lose sight of what you're playing here. You're playing Little League baseball," he told WJAR-TV.
Belisle also told the Woonsocket Call he's disappointed that now people will not remember his team for their great run in the Little League World Series but for "how they got beat by cheaters."