Marcus starts 7th-inning Children’s Hospital wave at Birmingham Barons games

The Marcuses at Regions Field, with Children’s in the background

by Lee J. Green

Allstate Insurance’s slogan is “you’re in good hands.” Thanks to Allstate insurance agent Nathan Marcus, hands at the Birmingham Barons games are waving to Children’s Hospital of Alabama patients, families and employees during the 7th inning stretch.

Marcus and his wife, Julie, came up with the “Seventh Inning Wave” as a way to raise awareness of and unity with Children’s Hospital, which can be seen just beyond right field at Regions Park.

“You can see and feel the response,” said Marcus. “The people who participate feel good about it and the (patients and employees) feel good about it. It’s still early, but the Barons said this is already their new tradition.”

Marcus got the idea when he was watching a segment on ESPN’s Gameday a couple of years ago, about how the Iowa Hawkeyes do a wave during their game to Children’s Hospital of Iowa, which overlooks their stadium.

He contacted the Barons staff and there was some interest. Allstate also loved the idea and agreed to sponsor the 7th inning this year.

Fans wave with the flashlights on their phones during the 7th inning break of Barons games. Patients and families at Children’s Hospital are in the process of receiving flashlights so they can “wave back.”

The Marcuses’ daughter, Rachel, recently started working as a nurse at Children’s. “That makes it even more special. It is so cool to share this with my wife and daughter. Rachel said she has talked to people in the stands and at Children’s. They just love it. This is truly a double mitzvah.”

Marcus said that all employees at his Vestavia and Mountain Brook offices are committed to community involvement. Everyone must do a day of service to support an organization or cause of their choosing. His offices also run a big holiday toy donation campaign for those in need and Marcus is also the president of the Sunrise Rotary Chapter.

“I know this makes me want to get even more involved helping Children’s Hospital. I hope those who come to the Barons games feel that connection and want to help too,” he said.

Emily Hornak, the director of cause marketing and corporate partnerships at Children’s, said “we love the fans in the stands waving at the kids, and we believe that raises awareness of Children’s of Alabama — not just to the fans who are at the game but also the people they go and tell. The enthusiasm for Children’s of Alabama is able to spread even beyond that moment in time when folks stand and wave at kids in the hospital.”

Birmingham Barons Corporate Sales Manager Don Leo said he felt like the idea was a home run from the start. Home plate faces Children’s Hospital, which is about four blocks from Regions Field.

“The Seventh Inning Stretch is part of the tradition of baseball. Having the Seventh Inning Wave as a part of it really makes it a special part of our tradition,” said Leo. On April 10, the first home game of the season, “everything went off without a hitch and it has just taken off from there.”

Marcus said that Allstate has donated $20,000 to Children’s Hospital as well. He added that they hope to grow and expand the Seventh Inning Wave. “It’s like they said in the baseball movie Field of Dreams — ‘if you build it, they will come’,” he said.