Peanuts. And Crackerjacks. These two items are not only ever-present at a baseball game, but they’re even included in baseball’s theme song. You can’t take a step anywhere without your shoes crunching on peanut shells or smelling fresh roasted peanuts mixed with freshly cut grass. For millions of American’s, there’s nothing out of place about that. However, for a select few million with a peanut allergy, that scenario can turn that baseball dream into a nightmare. So what’s a baseball-loving kid to do when they have a peanut allergy? Enter the Peanut Friendly Baseball Game.
This movement started a few years ago and keeps growing to more ballparks each year. The idea is simple: make an area free of peanuts (or don’t serve peanuts at all) for a baseball game or two. Some teams even go above and beyond to make most or every game safer for people with peanut allergies. We jealously read on social media how some baseball teams embraced this idea. We were overjoyed when our own local favorite, The Colorado Rockies, hit a home run and decided to join in the inclusion celebration.
Our First Game
The first time we took our firstborn son, “Zax” to a baseball game he was a baby. We never paid much attention to how many peanut shells were actually on the ground. However, he was a lap child at that point and it was easy to keep him off of the ground.
The next game we went to he was older and his brother “Kal” was around. They are both allergic to peanuts. A baseball game is not exactly the most exciting sport, especially for two little boys who need to move around. The Coors Field ballpark is equipped with a playground! So for most of the game, one of us stayed with the boys there. But the playground was not free of hazards, either.
The issue isn’t just about eating the peanuts, it’s about cross-contact. (If you’re not sure about what that is, think about making cookies and touching the flour. Anything you touch after that will have flour residue on it. It’s the same with peanut dust or potentially any food. You have to wash your hands after touching it.) Kids who ate peanuts were touching all of the playground surfaces. It wasn’t something we were really cognizant about until afterward. However, we were lucky and our kids made it out unscathed.
2015 Peanut Friendly Baseball Game
Because of our family’s peanut allergy, we were excited about the peanut friendly game that the Rockies started in 2015. They reserved a suite and roped off the first few rows below it. The area was thoroughly cleaned. There was a different entry point that we could use that had a sign on it about a no peanut zone. There was also an elevator with a sign and signs for the area where the suites were located. It was nice to have so much attention to peanut allergy awareness!
Even with the excitement of a peanut friendly baseball game and being in the suite, the boys still wanted to go to the playground. Their grandfather volunteered to take them there. Zax rolled down the slide (because just sliding down isn’t as much fun). He was scratching at his face because it was itching on the ride home on the light rail. We told him not to touch his eyes and we’ll give you a bath at home. Just as we said that he rubbed his eyes. At the car, he said his throat felt scratchy like if he ate an egg. (We were in a baked egg allergy research study, so that was his description of a mild reaction. Read about it on a previous blog post here).
The peanut friendly Rockies game in 2016 was out of reach for us. It was a bad day/time for our kids. We hated to miss it. We gave our feedback on how much our kids enjoyed the game, how the cross-contact issue is bigger for kids (since they touch everything,) and how we would appreciate a better time that’s not on a school night.
2017 Peanut Friendly Baseball Game
In 2017, we were able to get to the peanut friendly game again. We were amazed again at the signs and a special area to walk through to get to the suite, where we would be watching the game safely. The two suites were filling up more this time with families wanting to enjoy a peanut friendly baseball game. The only time we had to leave the “safe zone” was to go to the bathroom, which we did without incident. (We didn’t allow the playground this time.) The other issue is when we left after the game was over.
Being kids and curious they like to touch everything like handrails, elevator buttons, walls, etc. Kal was climbing up on a souvenir counter and we were thinking about peanut dust that could be on it. Then he inevitably touched his face. (Zax might have been more aware to not do this because of his last reaction here). Kal’s face became itchy and his eyes were red afterward. After that, we discussed how we could do better next time.
2018 saw interest grow yet again. There were three suites this time! It was SUPER to see the interest growing where they needed the extra space. It’s also great to see “the regulars” and new faces alike. There is one family that we’ve seen each year, who has a peanut-sniffing service dog for their son. It turns out our kid’s grandparents know their next door neighbor! Small world.
Because of our past issues, we took new precautions. We told the boys to not touch anything on the way out, we had them wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt over their baseball t-shirts. We took the outer-wear off after we got out of the park, and put it in a bag to be washed later. There were no reactions this time!
As a side note, we think this was the first peanut friendly baseball game that we went to when the Rockies won! (They made the playoffs that year too!) Bonus!
We keep hoping for more games, however, we’re happy and grateful about this one and the much better timeslot.
Our youngest son keeps asking about when the next peanut friendly baseball game is that he can go to. It’s always great when we know of the date and can tell him when it is! Thank you Colorado Rockies! Does your local team do this and have you been to one? Let us know your experiences in the comments below! (For more information about 2019 peanut friendly games, check out Spokin’s list here!)