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Hartford Yard Goats Are First Pro Sports Team to Ban Peanuts

6 Mar, 2019

By: Michael Popke

Buy me some kale chips and a dried fruit snack…? Nope, sorry, it just doesn’t have the same ring.

Dunkin’ Donuts Park — home of the Eastern League’s Class AA Hartford (Conn.) Yard Goats — will no longer serve peanuts at the old ball game. The move, announced in February, gives the two-year-old stadium either the dubious distinction or the brilliant or brilliant moniker as the first peanut-free venue in the country.

While many teams offer peanut-free sections and/or peanut-free games, the Colorado Rockies-affiliated Yard Goats will completely stop selling the common allergen this season in order to create a safe environment for spectators with peanut and tree nut allergies. According to a team statement, the idea to go peanut-free arose after a series of meetings with concerned parents of children with such allergies.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the atmosphere at Dunkin’ Donuts Park,” Yard Goats president Tim Restall said. “With more than 200 food items available, it makes sense to eliminate just two that allows fans with peanut allergies to attend games.” 

According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), one in 13 children has a food allergy, and the team pointed to studies that show the number of children with food allergies in the United States grew by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, and the number of children living with a peanut allergy tripled between 1997 and 2008.

Not everyone approves of the decision, if reaction on Twitter is any indication. “[I]f you … cater to this portion of the population, what next? Do away with bread to please those with a gluten allergy? Do away with alcohol because you’re worried alcoholics will drink it? Do away with cheese or ice cream because some are allergic to milk?”

“Baseball games are really challenging for someone with a nut allergy, because everyone’s throwing shells around,” Ben Blakesley of Wrentham, Mass., told USA Today, referring to his seven-year-old son Henry. “For my son, if he has any kind of contact, if he steps on a peanut and takes off his shoe, he could go into anaphylactic shock. A lot of people think if they have an EpiPen, they’re fine, but it’s not enough. If the airway closes, that’s it for them.”

“We were expecting to make national news, confident we would, but this was more than we thought,” Yard Goats’ general manager Mike Abramson told MILB.com, reacting to the blowback. “The interesting thing, which didn’t occur to me, was that all of the debate was about what people perceive: the ‘wussification’ of the country. That this is not about peanuts, this is about coddling our children.”

The Yard Goats chose health and safety over tradition,” Restall added. “[‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’] came about in 1908. It was written by two guys who had never been to a baseball game. In 1908, the coffee filter was invented, the first Model T came off the line, the first plane carrying a passenger took off. Tradition is important, but times have changed. Now there are kids that, if they come into contact with peanuts or peanut shells, they will die. It’s very serious.”

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