Squatting to remember Lazar LaPenna


Lazar LaPenna celebrated his 10th birthday on April 27, 2022. Two days later, he ripped a base hit and stood at first base wearing his trademark smile.

He was doing what he loved most — playing Little League baseball in Long Beach.

LaPenna had been diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age, but it never hindered him from playing the game he loved. The cheers went silent when Lazar collapsed shortly after his base hit, the result of what was believed to be a seizure. An ambulance was called, but he died a short time later.

Lazar was honored and remembered again by his parents, Gregg and Monique, friends and family on the Long Beach boardwalk on his birthday this past Saturday, April 27. It has been two years since the tragedy, but Lazar and his love, passion and impact was remembered, and will continue to be. Alexander, a locally known fitness icon on the boardwalk, did 99 squats to honor him, with others joining in, too.

The squats, which were in front of a banner with her name, were a way to remember the young ballplayer in a special, unique way.

A few days after his son’s death, LaPenna said, in a past Herald article, “I’m holding the score book as he looks at me with the biggest smile.  I look down at the book to mark his single. That’s when my family’s life changed.”

Lazar has been remembered throughout Long Beach in numerous ways over the past two years. The Long Beach/Lido Little League parade honored the young ballplayer in early May 2022, shortly after he died.

About 500 people — Little Leaguers, parents and other adults — gathered outside Lindell Elementary School shortly before 10 a.m. to remember Lazar, who that season would have been a member of the Braves, one of the teams in the league. The air was gloomy and foggy on the somber day, almost as if on purpose.

The Little League was scheduled to hold its annual parade on April 30 that year, but postponed it after Lazar’s death. League officials said that the remainder of the season would be dedicated to him.

All of the players wore a blue patch on their uniforms with Lazar’s name emblazoned on it. There were posters around the Lindell school, also displaying his name. 

He was widely described as a young man who loved baseball, whether playing the game or talking about it. He loved spending time outdoors, and he also loved Legos.

Tributes came in from Long Beach city officials, Little League programs across the country, players in other parts of Nassau County and even from the New York Mets, the team he loved more than anything.

“We send our love and support to his family and teammates in the Long Beach/Lido League,” the Mets organization wrote in a social media post shortly after his death.