MOCA, Dominican Republic (AP) -- Star pitcher Danny Almonte is accustomed to being in control.
Not this time.
Almonte, his teammates on the Rolando Paulino Little League All-Star team from the Bronx and Little League officials in Pennsylvania are waiting for results of a Dominican government investigation that could answer whether he is 12 years old or 14. An announcement is expected Thursday.
If officials determine that Almonte is 14, Little League officials will likely strip the team of their third-place title in the Little League World Series. Whatever the case, Dominicans say the boy played no role in the swirling controversy.
"This is not only hurting Danny, this is hurting the future of all Dominican ball players," Danny Arias, a 28-year-old shopkeeper in Danny's hometown of Moca, said Wednesday.
Victor Romero from the government records office in the capital of Santo Domingo spent much of Wednesday investigating birth documents in Moca, 90 miles north of the capital.
Last year, Almonte moved with his father to the Bronx, in New York City, and began playing Little League baseball. He pitched the first perfect game in the Little League World Series since 1957 before his team was defeated in the U.S. finals by Apopka, Fla.
Almonte finished the tournament in South Williamsport, Pa., on Sunday, with 46 strikeouts in 18 innings.
"Danny! Danny!" chanted thousands of people waving Dominican flags as the Rolando Paulino All-Stars Little League team paraded through the Bronx on Wednesday. "12 or 14 -- so what," a sign read.
Danny's mother, Sonia Rojas Breton, has a handwritten, photocopied birth certificate that says Danny was born April 7, 1989. Ten blocks from her house in the Dominican Republic, Moca's official records office has another birth certificate that says Danny was born April 7, 1987.
In addition, a handwritten document obtained by the New York Daily News from Dr. Toribio Bencosme Hospital in Moca states that a woman named Rojas gave birth to a boy in the hospital on April 7, 1987. Rojas, who says she gave birth to Danny at home in the nearby town of Jamao, insists all documents but hers are false.
"I know where I gave birth to my son, and it wasn't in a hospital," Rojas told The Associated Press Wednesday.
The handwritten hospital record, seen by an AP reporter, is in a school notebook and lists the names of 30 other women who gave birth the same day. It is not notarized, nor is it signed.
Almonte's mother also is baffled by the lack of records at the school she said both Danny and his older brother Juan attended.
"Danny never went to school here, but his brother "Cheito" did," Ermenia de la Rosa, director of the Escuella Evangelica Alianza in Moca, said Wednesday. She did not know his exact age.
An AP reporter also was shown a birth certificate from the records office in Moca for Danny's older brother. Danny's mother says he is 14, but the birth certificate says he was born Dec. 15, 1985, making him a few months shy of 16. She claims he was also born in a house in Jamao.
Rumors about Danny's age followed the team throughout the tournament, but Little League officials didn't really question Danny's age until Monday, when Sports Illustrated published a report saying Danny's father, Felipe de Jesus Almonte, had registered his son's birth twice.
It said the earlier record showed a 1987 birth date and the later one showed 1989 -- the same evidence an AP reporter found.
On ABC's "Good Morning America," de Jesus said Wednesday he doesn't understand how the two birth records could be different and said he wasn't trying to cheat anyone.
Meanwhile, the Daily News reported Thursday that Danny has not attended school since moving to the United States with his father. Team officials said he attended a public school in the South Bronx, but school records don't reflect that, and Principal Saul Brodsky said Danny had never enrolled there.
"He did not study this past year because he was having trouble speaking English. So he wasn't enrolled," the paper quoted de Jesus as saying. When asked what his son had been doing for the last 18 months, de Jesus said, "He has been eating ... and he has been playing ball."
The case has stirred a frenzy in the Dominican Republic, which has produced such greats as Sammy Sosa and Pedro Martinez. Known for baseball, the Caribbean country is also noted for its poor record keeping: Nearly 25 percent of children over age 5 lack proper birth certificates, according to UNICEF.
The lack of adequate records and prospect of lucrative baseball contracts creates an atmosphere vulnerable to fraud -- although most of the cases involve players accused of exaggerating their age to join the major leagues earlier.
Major league teams are prohibited from signing players before their 16th birthday.
The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Dominican Adrian Beltre in 1994. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig later ruled in 1999 the team recruited him before his 16th birthday and altered documents to make the signing appear legal.
"Families in the Dominican Republic expect to generate income from their children's baseball future," said Pablo Peguero, a Dodgers representative in the Dominican Republic.
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