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Community rallies around Long Beach family following death of 10-year-old Lazar LaPenna on baseball diamond

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LONG BEACH, N.Y. — There was a tragedy late last week on a Little League field on Long Island.

A 10-year-old boy collapsed and died while running to first base.

CBS2’s Alice Gainer spoke with his heartbroken Long Beach family on Monday.

Lazar LaPenna had just gone on a cruise with his family and celebrated his birthday on Wednesday.

Friday was his first Little League game of the season.

“He got a really nice hit, barrel of the bat. He knew it. The crowd was going crazy,” Greg LaPenna said.

Lazar’s father was coaching.

“He was so excited. He looked over to me. A smile from ear to ear,” Gregg LaPenna said.

He said he looked down for just a moment to mark down the hit in the scorebook.

“I hear Gerry yell that Lazar’s having a seizure, and he fell to the ground at first base,” Gregg LaPenna said.

Gerry is Lazar’s 11-year-old brother, who was coaching first base at the time.

His father says Lazar had epilepsy. His seizures had gotten worse over the years when he had one, but was nearly a year seizure-free and was on medication.

“After a long period of CPR, he just didn’t make it,” Gregg LaPenna said.

People have been placing flowers, baseballs and baseball caps at the ballpark. The family says support from the community is what’s getting them through this tragedy.

“From everybody, it’s touching and everything is so surreal,” Gregg LaPenna said.

Other teams in the area are also paying tribute, putting baseball bats on porches and using the hashtag #BatsOutForLazar.

His brothers are holding on to memories of playing together.

“He always play games with me,” one said.

“Lazar was a really good kid. We’d always play Madden against each other,” another said.

The family said Lazar lived for sports.

“The Mets were everything to him, the Jets everything, so excited about the draft,” Greg LaPenna said.

And after years of changing up his uniform number, this season he finally picked one he wanted to stick with.

“‘Can I be number 9? I always want to be number 9?'” his father said, breaking down.

Greg LaPenna said the rest of the team’s season is dedicated to Lazar.

May they play with as much passion and joy as he did.


LONG BEACH, N.Y. — There was a tragedy late last week on a Little League field on Long Island.

A 10-year-old boy collapsed and died while running to first base.

CBS2’s Alice Gainer spoke with his heartbroken Long Beach family on Monday.

Lazar LaPenna had just gone on a cruise with his family and celebrated his birthday on Wednesday.

Friday was his first Little League game of the season.

“He got a really nice hit, barrel of the bat. He knew it. The crowd was going crazy,” Greg LaPenna said.

Lazar’s father was coaching.

“He was so excited. He looked over to me. A smile from ear to ear,” Gregg LaPenna said.

He said he looked down for just a moment to mark down the hit in the scorebook.

“I hear Gerry yell that Lazar’s having a seizure, and he fell to the ground at first base,” Gregg LaPenna said.

Gerry is Lazar’s 11-year-old brother, who was coaching first base at the time.

His father says Lazar had epilepsy. His seizures had gotten worse over the years when he had one, but was nearly a year seizure-free and was on medication.

“After a long period of CPR, he just didn’t make it,” Gregg LaPenna said.

People have been placing flowers, baseballs and baseball caps at the ballpark. The family says support from the community is what’s getting them through this tragedy.

“From everybody, it’s touching and everything is so surreal,” Gregg LaPenna said.

Other teams in the area are also paying tribute, putting baseball bats on porches and using the hashtag #BatsOutForLazar.

His brothers are holding on to memories of playing together.

“He always play games with me,” one said.

“Lazar was a really good kid. We’d always play Madden against each other,” another said.

The family said Lazar lived for sports.

“The Mets were everything to him, the Jets everything, so excited about the draft,” Greg LaPenna said.

And after years of changing up his uniform number, this season he finally picked one he wanted to stick with.

“‘Can I be number 9? I always want to be number 9?'” his father said, breaking down.

Greg LaPenna said the rest of the team’s season is dedicated to Lazar.

May they play with as much passion and joy as he did.

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