Little League teams across the country are bowing out of a popular summertime tradition due to COVID-19 vaccine issues.
JOHN GARCIA: Highlanders run through drills in Horner Park on the city's northwest side. The 12-and-under team continues to practice for the rest of their season, even though what was to be the highlight, a trip to play at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, is now canceled.
MATT POISSON: It's a really big letdown. It's really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's not something you do every year. You plan for it for years in advance. And unfortunately, it just fell apart at the last minute for us.
JOHN GARCIA: The team had to cancel the trip because Cooperstown informed them all players over the age of 12 had to be vaccinated before they'd be allowed to play. A negative COVID test would not be enough. That was even before the announcement that the vaccine would be available to 12-year-olds starting this week.
JEREMY MUNOZ: This is a decision parents weren't really ready to make at the same time. So I think it was just something bizarre to ask of a parent to make, especially during a time like this.
JOHN GARCIA: So after consulting with parents, coach Jeremy Munoz decided to pull out of the tournament. The trip was to cost about $18,000, and they'd already paid. It was a big chunk of money for an inner city team to try to collect.
BEN WONG: We've been fundraising for the past three to four years. It's heart wrenching for me to see that because we're a big baseball family.
JOHN GARCIA: Cooperstown refunded most of the money but kept $4,000 as a deposit. Parents are upset about that, but even more disappointed their kids will miss out on the trip.
MATT POISSON: It's an experience that you just can't create anywhere else, and because of that, it's something that they've been looking forward to for so many years.
JOHN GARCIA: The Highlanders will try to make up for the canceled Cooperstown trip by using the rest of the money they raised for a tournament in Florida. Meantime, a lot of other area teams also are missing out on going to Cooperstown, many of them still scrambling to figure out what's next.