Youth baseball team told no COVID-19 vaccine, no tournament

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A tournament that's been in the works for three years might be over before it even starts for a group of young baseball players after they were told they're required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but they're not even eligible to get it yet.

The Texas Drillers youth baseball team focuses on tournament games. For the past three years, they've prepared to travel to the Baseball Hall of Fame and play in a tournament in New York.

"It's amazing," said Dillon Norris, a Texas Drillers player. "It's probably the best thing that happened to me this year. It would be pretty special, because I don't know a lot of people who played up there."

In order to make it all happen, the team spent about $17,000 on flights, rental homes and equipment. But a letter released the other day may change the team's plans.

Cooperstown Dreams Park, who is hosting the tournament, released a statement saying in order to participate, the 12-year-old athletes must show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.

ABC13 contacted the organization on Tuesday regarding their request, but has not received a response.

"We felt it was a little onerous to go through this level of scrutiny to play baseball up there," said Texas Drillers General Manager Paul Edmond.

As of now, there's no COVID-19 vaccine approved for any child younger than 16.

"We felt like there are other options that we wanted for our kids if we wanted to play baseball, so we're going to pursue those options," Edmonds recalled.

In fact, another tournament in Cooperstown told teams it may not require the vaccine.

"Obviously, with the Baseball Hall of Fame there, just the attraction with this tournament, it draws lots of different teams from across the country," Edmonds said.

Meanwhile, experts told Eyewitness News in Texas, it is legal for events, or organizations, to ask for COVID-19 vaccination proof if you want to participate in different activities.

However, that rule could change if the governor issues an order.

After taking a summer off because of the pandemic, the Texas Drillers hope this doesn't impact their season once again.

"I heard that it's exciting," Norris said. "There are a lot of good teams up there, and then I heard it's going to get the team closer together."

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