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L.A. Little League’s season was saved by charitable strip club, until officials decided to return donation

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

In a twist that seems ripped straight from the 2005 remake of "The Bad News Bears," if not the sketch comedy show "Portlandia" or possibly a Lil Wayne rap lyric, a Los Angeles Little League on the verge of ceasing operations because of rising costs and declining revenue was bailed out just before the start of the 2012 season by the least likely of all benefactors -- a strip club -- only to decide to return the donation after receiving national attention.

As reported by the Torrance Daily Breeze and Associated Press, among other outlets, and brought to Prep Rally's attention by NBC Sports' OfftheBench blog, the Lennox Little League was given a stunning $1,200 donation from the Jet Strip gentleman's club. The funds helped offset rising costs for baseball fields within the K-8 Lennox School District, which owns all of the baseball facilities in the Lennox community and dramatically limited the Little League's ability to sell concessions at its facilities.

"It feels good to be from Lennox when people do stuff like that," Lennox Little League volunteer president Roberto Aguirre told the Daily Breeze. "At the same time, the future is very scary for us, because [the donation] is a one-time deal."

Yet after receiving significant attention following the initial donation, Lennox Little League officials decided to return the free money, citing concerns that accepting it would be inappropriate. Los Angeles news station KTLA first reported that the donation would be returned.

Without the $1,200, Lennox Little League is again in severe jeopardy of being unable to run a 2012 season. Some 300 children take part in the league, which was scheduled to begin later in March.

If the league changes it's mind again, it can do so with comfort in knowning the Lennox Little Leaguers won't be forced to wear the Jet Strip logo on their uniforms, as the Bears did for "Bo-Peeps Gentleman's Club" some seven years ago. Rather, the donation to the Little League comes with no strings attached.

For the time being, Lennox Little League becomes the latest Los Angeles non-profit to unilaterally reject free money from a community strip club. As the Daily Breeze noted, a club called Bare Elegance raised a whopping $10,000 via a charity golf tournament 13 years ago, but repeatedly had non-profit groups like the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Special Olympics flat out refuse the money.

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The Bad News Bears circa 2005 — Yahoo! Movies/Paramount Pictures

The Bad News Bears circa 2005 — Yahoo! Movies/Paramount Pictures

Similarly, the American Red Cross unilaterally refused a $5,000 offer from Jet Strip in 1993. Still, the gentleman's club has repeatedly donated to the Lennox Coordinating Council, which then redistributed donated funds to other community projects.

It seems that the Jet Strip would have been perfectly happy to continue in such anonymity were it not for a member of the coordinating council who simply felt that the Jet Strip deserved more credit for what it was doing.

"I told [Jet Strip General Manager James Wallace], 'Hey, it's about time we get you out of the background and let people know you care about the community," longtime community council member Maria Verduzco Smith told the Daily Breeze. "They don't do anything illegal. It's a business. To each his own."

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