The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that Little League baseball, long held to be a pillar of small-town values, is in fact a pillow stuffed with stolen money. At least it is out in La Verne, where one girl's softball league official was recently accused of embezzling $20,000. The Trib notes that all across the valley leagues are discovering suspicious bank deficits. There's the Covina American Little League, which is opening the 2009 season $6,000 in the hole, while West Covina's Pacific Coast Little League officials believe between $6,000 and $10,000 is missing. What's startling is that the Little League officials sifting through their ledgers have no precise idea of exactly how much is missing — they can only offer ballpark estimates.

The Trib feature quotes Pacific Coast vice president Steve

Bennett as claiming the traditional lack of financial oversight in

Little League makes it a tempting target of both white-collar thieves

and employees who just can't resist helping themselves to a little

extra cash. Bennett says his league has now installed a video camera in

the snack bar, presumably to guard against employees' sticky fingers.

Although the article focuses on crime, it also notes that Little

Leagues sometimes simply mismanage their funds or overspend their


A look at its latest IRS Form 990 on record shows that in 2007 Little Baseball Inc. operated with more than $71 million in assets. Its mission is

“to provide healthy activity for children using the ball field as a

classroom to instill discipline, team work, sportsmanship and fair

play, and to establish a set of values to guide them into adulthood.”

And, the league might now add, to throw out employees trying to steal — and we don't mean home plate.

LA Weekly