Naloxone giveaway part of Trenton baseball team’s Addiction Awareness Night

An up-close image of a package of Naloxone in someone's hand.

File photo: Naloxone (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Fans attending Saturday’s Trenton Thunder baseball game against the West Virginia Black Bears will receive free naloxone.

The giveaway is part of the ball club’s Addiction Awareness Night, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Human Services and City of Angels, a recovery organization.

Jon Bodnar, chief revenue officer for the team, said the event grew out of the partnership they formed with City of Angels over the years.

“It started out…where the City of Angels baseball team would purchase a block of tickets to use as their fundraiser, and they would play a game here annually at the ballpark against another local team,” he said, adding that the organization “has really become like a family.”

Bodnar says the Thunder is the first baseball team affiliated with Major League Baseball to give away the medication that reverses an opioid overdose.

While the giveaway is grabbing everyone’s attention, the event is to bring awareness to an issue that is suspected to have claimed 1765 lives in New Jersey so far this year, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Before the game, a community resource fair will take place outside of the Trenton Thunder Ballpark.

During the game, the Thunder will take the field in uniforms that will be donated to the City of Angels team in a postgame, on-field ceremony. The City of Angels team participates in the Amateur Baseball Association.

This is the second time the team has dedicated a night to bringing awareness to addiction. The first one occurred in 2019. With COVID causing minor league baseball games to be canceled in 2020, and officials concerned about turnout last year, it was full steam ahead for this year, according to Kevin Meara, chairman of City of Angels.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

He said the state was “100% behind” the idea of giving away naloxone when the idea was presented to Val Mielke, assistant commissioner at the Department of Human Services. The team supported the idea as well.

“It was just a logistical question,” Meara said, after backing was received. “It’s not like we’re giving a bobblehead away when you come into the game.”

During the game, representatives from the state will provide the naloxone, along with information on how to apply the drug.

Meara adds the event fits in with the Thunder’s work to bring awareness to the issue.

More than naloxone, Bodnar says he hopes the event will take the stigma out of addressing addiction.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” he said. “We really view ourselves as playing a small part, but we want to be able to use our platform so that we can raise awareness.”

Saturdays just got more interesting.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal