Peanuts and Cracker Jacks: 5 Things I wish you knew about my little Baseball Fan with Nut Allergies

My son L* was diagnosed with peanut and tree nut allergies when he was two. His love of sports started way earlier than that.

In 2018, my family decided to see America by visiting all the MLB parks. Of course, we meticulously plan and consider L*’s nut allergy. And there are definite challenges to going to a MLB stadium with peanut allergies. But here’s what I wish you knew about my little guy and our family.

Playing in our cool Orioles tracksuits is exhausting!

Before I start, let me just say that EVERY CHILD WITH ALLERGIES IS DIFFERENT. While L*’s allergy to peanuts and tree nuts is severe, he does NOT have asthma, which is a high-risk factor. We go to annual visits with our amazing allergist, have a medical action plan that our family understands, and plan MLB baseball visits carefully and thoughtfully. But our plan is specific to our son and family. I am not a medical professional, and I am not giving medical advice.

We’re Not Here to Ruin Your Experience

In fact, I didn’t take my kid to the baseball game with you in mind at all. Unless your peanuts are directly effecting my kid’s ability to breathe, I personally won’t ask you to stop eating your peanuts. My kid just loves baseball and wants to see a live game (and try his darndest to get on the JumboTron).

My kid lives in fear a lot.

L* goes through periods of severe anxiety about his allergy. Part of our family choosing to go to baseball games, is to teach him how to manage his allergy by exposing him to different situations. It’s important for him to be proactive, and these situations give him power over his allergies.

But at the same time, his allergy is a matter of life and death. And that’s a lot for anyone, especially a kid.

Just Ask Me or L*

If you are nervous about eating your peanuts, just lean over and ask us about it. When I go to the game, I travel with lot of tools. It’s what food allergy families do. Maybe I can offer you one of the paper bags I have to put your peanut shells in, or maybe you would like one of my many alternative snacks instead of your peanuts. We get it…and we plan for it.

Sometimes it doesn’t work.

This beautiful night, it just didn’t work…and we had to leave the game early.

Sometimes L* needs to leave the game early. His eyes itch, or he starts to have a rash or hives…it’s time to go. Despite the planning, tools, and even empathy from fellow fans…it just doesn’t work that day. And that’s ok. Allergic reactions are not consistent, the best indicator of an allergic reaction is your last reaction. We try our best to control the things we can, and we move on.

When you show empathy, it means with world to L* and to my family

This game was the first time a fellow fan showed us spontaneous empathy at a baseball game, but it wasn’t the last.

Believe it or not, a version of this has happened multiple times at different venues.

After a baseball game, when my kids are showered and snuggled in their beds after a fun day at the baseball park… I remember you and I shed a tear (actually I’m an ugly-crier, so it’s not a cute cry). You’re the fellow fan who leaned over and asked why we were wiping our seats. Maybe L* felt bold and told you about his allergy himself, or maybe he leaned into me shyly and wanted me to explain it to you..but we told you L* has nut allergies. And you smiled, and put your peanuts away. You did it because you wanted to, because that’s the type of person you are… and it meant the world to us.

Aaaaaand…I’m crying again. No, I don’t want to ban peanuts from MLB stadiums. But maybe with some empathy, we can find ways to enjoy the game together.

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