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Minor league baseball team to have peanut-free ballpark

HARTFORD, Conn. — Kerry Adamowicz hoped that a meeting with Hartford Yard Goats officials might lead to a few peanut-free days or maybe a peanut-free section at the Double-A baseball team’s stadium, so her son and other children with food allergies could enjoy a game.

The team decided to go a bit further.

The Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies announced this month it is going completely peanut free — no more peanuts, Cracker Jack or any other food that could put kids with the potentially deadly peanut allergy in anaphylactic shock.

“Everyone wants their kids to be kids and be part of the group,” said Adamowiz, whose 2-year-old, Sam, has a severe peanut allergy. “Our biggest worry is would he even be able to go to a game? Now we know, stress free, he can go to the games with his siblings and we don’t need to worry about it.”

The organization Food Allergy Research & Education says one in every 10 adults and one in every 13 children has some sort of food allergy, and up to 2 percent of children have an allergy to peanuts.

Lisa Gable, executive officer of FARE, says many teams and colleges have made some areas peanut free, or they have set up special games for fans with allergies. The group is partnering with the NBA for a series of games next month, which will feature, nut-free concession stands, or sections. But, the Yard Goats, she said, are the first team affiliated with a major league to simply ban the nuts.

Northwestern University has made the nonconference portion of its football season peanut free since 2016, but recently ended the practice at basketball games when it opened a new arena with a different food vendor.

Hartford’s decision takes on added significance, Gable said, because it’s a baseball team, a sport linked by song and tradition to peanuts and Cracker Jack, making it all the more significant, she said.

“But we appreciate every team that partners with us in some way and whatever accommodation that a venue deems appropriate,” she said. “It’s just important that people know there is a safe space, and where that safe space is going to be.”

Yard Goats President Tim Restall says he has two nephews with food allergies, and the team’s decision was not made to get publicity or drive up business.

But he notes that since making the decision support has come from across the country.

“I’ve received emails from as far away as Virginia and Pennsylvania from people telling me they are going to vacation in Connecticut, so they can see a Yard Goats game,” he said. “I received one last night from a father of four, one of whom has a peanut allergy, who has never been able to take his kids to a professional game. They are going to travel to Hartford this year to do that.”

And, yes, the famous song has not been forgotten. The opening lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” go: “Take me out to the ball game/Take me out with the crowd/Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack/I don’t care if I never get back.”

The Yard Goats are now running a contest on social media, asking fans to rewrite the key lyrics. The winner will get to lead fans in singing the song on opening day.

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