NJ youth baseball team backs out of national tournament due to COVID-19 vaccine requirement

A youth baseball team in New Jersey has backed out of a national tournament after a new requirement says a COVID-19 vaccination is required for players 12 and up.

News 12 Staff

Apr 15, 2021, 9:53 AM

Updated 1,138 days ago


A youth baseball team in New Jersey has backed out of a national tournament after a new requirement says a COVID-19 vaccination is required for players 12 and up, even though it's not yet authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.    
"I was really crushed,” says 12-year-old player Christopher DiChiara. “I could not wait for this the whole entire year. I was so excited.”
Some parents are calling the popular summer baseball tournament and camp experience near Cooperstown, New York, a money grab after teams coughed up nearly $20,000 per team to participate.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” says parent John LaMagra. “They only get to go one year. Sometimes you can go two years as an 11-year-old, but most of all, it’s a one-year thing. It's sad. It's sad what these people are doing.”
The Cooperstown Dreams Park was established 25 years ago and offers hundreds of teams and thousands of kids an experience of a lifetime -- a sleepaway camp for baseball wrapped around a tournament where kids play against other teams from all over the country.
“It's like going to the World Series,” says 12-year-old baseball player Joseph LaMagra. 
Parents who contacted News 12 say about a week after they submitted final payments, the baseball park, not affiliated with Little League or the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, changed vaccination guidelines to require all 12 and up who attend to get a vaccine -- even though that's not available. 
VACCINE INFORMATION: Check to see if you are eligible
APPOINTMENT INFORMATION: Where and how to get vaccinated
SEARCH FOR A CURE: Statistics and State Resources
“I don't want to vaccinate my child so he can play baseball for a week when we aren't even sure if we want to vaccinate him at all,” says parent Shayna DiChiara.
Teams such as the Brick Bulldogs decided to pull out and risk being put on a waiting list for next year. The Wall Knights are staying the course because parents think the organization will change their requirements before summer.
“I have no intention of subjecting my son to that,” says parent Sheila LaMagra. “My son has asthma, so he has some existing conditions. At the same time, he could react to this vaccine very poorly.”
News 12 called and emailed the organizers of Cooperstown Dreams Park, but they have not responded. Campsite owners near Cooperstown say they've seen hundreds of cancellations since vaccine requirements were issued on April 8.
It is not affiliated with Little League, MLB or the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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