Vigilance is vital for the Naab family of Clarence, which includes parents Kelly and Tim, and sons Ryder, 4 and Cooper, 7, the latter of whom has a life-threatening peanut allergy.
Cooper loves baseball. He is a member of the Clarence Blue Jays house team and Clarence Devils travel team. His favorite positions are catcher and first base. For the first time, he’s had the chance to comfortably watch a professional baseball game in Buffalo this year after the Bisons – at Kelly Naab’s request – decided to set aside seats in a “Peanut Reduced Zone” during three games, including the upcoming Wednesday night contest with the Syracuse Chiefs.
Cooper will throw out the first pitch.
“It’s nice to know you can go to a game and sit in an environment where you don’t have to worry so much or be on guard so much,” Kelly Naab said. “Most of these kids have never attended a baseball game in their lives, so it’s really, really exciting for them.”
Those wishing to attend the remaining 7:05 p.m. games in the special section Wednesday or Aug. 29 must pre-order tickets by calling Nick Iacona with the Bisons at 846-2211 or emailing email@example.com.
The sectioned-off area is in the 200 level down the first-base line. Families are encouraged to enter the section through Pettibone’s restaurant for a straighter shot.
“Nick will either put the tickets at will call or mail them to the people who purchase them,” Naab said.
Q. How much are tickets?
They’re $12 each or you can buy one for $17, which includes a hot dog, a Coke and a Skeeter Nut Free Cookie pack. The Bisons teamed up with the Skeeter Cookie Company to provide a snack that’s safe for those fans. They’ve gone so far as to review the ingredients on the hotdog rolls and hotdogs to make sure that they’re safe, and they’re making concession stands near that area safe for those fans, as well.
Q. What does it mean to a family with a child who has a nut allergy to get cooperation like this from the Bisons?
Buffalo is a sports town and we want to raise our kids to love sports just like we do. To go and cheer on players they aspire to be like is huge for our family, and so many other families. This isn’t just for my son – of course he was my inspiration – but there’s so many kids just like him that are passionate about baseball. For them to be able to go to a game like this is really special.
Q. The section doesn’t say peanut free?
The reason they called it peanut reduced is that you really can’t make anything peanut-free. It’s an open-air facility and people are going to be consuming nuts (in other sections). That’s fine. We decided to call it peanut reduced because at least fans in that section will not be shelling peanuts. It makes fans in the section feel a lot more comfortable. Peanuts and baseball go hand-in-hand and people should be able to enjoy that, but to have a section where people can enjoy a game and not be worried about people next to them, behind them, in front of them is so important.
Q. What was the reaction last month to the first of the three games?
I remembered so many families saying that was their first chance to attend a baseball game and their kids were so excited. One family said they had been driving to Toronto to attend their peanut-reduced games because the Blue Jays have already started this ... but their ability to watch baseball in their own town meant so much to them.
Q. You say the Bisons have been “fabulous to work with.”
“The organization is great, and they really opened up their mindset to allow this to happen. I’m hoping this is a benefit for them as well as so many families. I think it’s a good thing for our town to know that the Bisons have done this and they really wanted to.
Q. Has Cooper been practicing for the first pitch?
Yes he has, and he’s been waiting patiently. He’s very excited.
Q. You’ve reached out to the Bills, the Sabres and the Bandits in hopes of them doing something similar?
Even addressing the topic of fans with food allergies, and providing information, knowing how people can safely attend a game, if there’s a section they recommend, is how I worded requests to those organizations. I think an organization looks good when they stay on top of a growing health issue, and so many people can benefit.