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Thread: Baseball and chew

  1. #1
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Baseball and chew

    http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/spo...3?OpenDocument

    So, why do baseball players chew?
    By Gerry Fraley
    SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
    04/26/2007

    Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan and Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler stood on opposite sides of the baseball team at Canyon de Oro High School in Tucson, Ariz.

    Duncan used smokeless tobacco. Kinsler gave it up after an ill-fated, stomach-turning experience.

    Kinsler cannot recall seeing Duncan without the omnipresent dip in his mouth. Kinsler understands why Duncan is part of a lineage that dates back to spitballs and Babe Ruth.

    "I guess dipping is tradition,'' Kinsler said. "Some guys need it to perform. Some guys obviously hide it better than other guys.''

    Duncan declined to discuss his choice. Duncan might be the Cardinals' most conspicuous consumer of tobacco, but he is hardly alone on this team. Or in his sport.

    The dippers and chewers and even a few holdout smokers are out there. Their presence illustrates how deeply tobacco is ingrained in the culture of baseball.

    Estimates say about one in three major-league players use tobacco products, all legal, during the season. In the general population, about one in 10 males are users.

    There are users in other sports. Former Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman was an avid dipper until late in his career, when a family cancer scare changed his thinking.

    The difference is that baseball players are visible in their use. There are no known instances of an NBA or NHL player partaking in tobacco during competition. Sherrill Headrick, a center and linebacker in the AFL from 1960-68, is believed to be the last pro football player to use tobacco during games.

    "We know it's part of the history,'' said Cincinnati Reds first baseman Scott Hatteberg, who quit tobacco after having a Kinsler-like episode in high school. "Growing up, the stereotypical ball player was a dirty guy with a chaw.''

    With tobacco comes a health risk that dwarfs the dangers of the current hot-button topics in baseball: steroids, human growth hormones and amphetamines.

    According to the National Cancer Institute, smokeless-tobacco users develop oral cancer at about 50 times the rate of the general population. The legendary Ruth died, in 1948, from oral cancer.

    The NCI is studying data on the relationship between smokeless tobacco and heart disease. There is anecdotal evidence that suggests a link.

    Doctors told San Diego reliever Doug Brocail that using dip tobacco for more than 20 years probably contributed to a 99 percent blockage in a left coronary artery branch. Brocail had an angioplasty in 2006.

    A sticky issue

    MLB would like to rid the game of tobacco's stain.

    Clubs cannot provide tobacco to players, a radical change from the days when clubhouses brimmed with cartons of cigarettes, pouches of tobacco and tins of snuff.

    In 1993, MLB banned the use of tobacco by all minor-leaguers not on 40-man major-league rosters and therefore not represented by the Major League Baseball Players Association. MLB hoped the bottom-up approach would wean players from tobacco before they reached the majors.

    MLB offers educational programs and oral screening for players, but it is powerless to ban tobacco at the major-league level. As an issue for the basic agreement, that requires the union's approval.

    Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for labor relations and human resources, said the issue of banning tobacco has come up during negotiations on the basic agreement. It did not get traction because the issues of performance-enhancing substances such as steroids and illegal drugs took precedence.

    "It's a tough issue,'' Manfred said. "It's an issue of personal choice, and the union has been clear of where it stands on that.''

    Officials with the Major League Baseball Players Association did not respond to requests for comment. The union has recognized that tobacco is a health issue but believes personal choice is more important than establishing a ban and penalties.

    "It's a far cry to say that because it's bad for you, you should participate in a structure which allows your employer to punish you for doing something you shouldn't be doing,'' union chief executive officer Gene Orza said in 2004 during a panel discussion.

    A long history

    Tobacco has been interwoven with the game's appeal for more than a century.

    Baseball cards started as a promotion by tobacco companies. By 1910, advertising for American Tobacco's Bull Durham brand at ballparks was common.

    Hall of Famer Ty Cobb treated his bats with juice from Nerve navy cut, a slow-burning, rope-like tobacco that was often steeped in rum. The introduction of the spitball in 1902 encouraged pitchers to chew so they could have a ready supply of juice to put on the baseball.

    The advent of televised games increased tobacco's presence. Cigarette makers advertised on the telecasts, and their brands became identified with teams.

    Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan said that when he broke into the majors with the New York Mets in 1968, more than half the team smoked.

    About a decade later, as the health risks of cigarettes became better known, players returned to the old habits of chewing tobacco and dipping snuff. All the while, tobacco companies provided free products to teams and included players in advertising programs.

    "We do know that young players starting in the game admire the leaders and look up to them,'' said Dr. Herbert Severson, a psychologist at the University of Oregon and a scientist at the Oregon Research Institute. "They see them chew and develop the perception that to be successful, you have to chew."

    Severson served as the senior research scientist on a study of the use of smokeless tobacco by major-league players from 1998-2003. Severson found smokeless tobacco is far more prevalent in baseball than in the overall population.

    According to Severson, the rate of usage in baseball ranged from 30-36 percent during the study. According to the most recent data, about 10 percent of all males use smokeless tobacco.

    The study said that about 40 percent of the users considered themselves addicted to smokeless tobacco. Others said they used it as means of relaxation or to sharpen focus and therefore improve performance.

    In a survey of major-leaguers from 1988-90, the University of Washington's School of Dentistry found no relationship between tobacco use and performance. Users did not produce as a better rate than players who abstain. Severson's study showed the same pattern.

    "There's this mythology that it somehow makes you a better player,'' Severson said. "There are a lot of myths that players buy into, but we can find no evidence to support them.

    "One thing about baseball is that a lot of rituals and myths are passed down from generation to generation. That's pretty strong.''

    How strong?

    During spring training, Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino offered to make a $20,000 donation to Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute if manager Terry Francona quit his tobacco habit. If Francona fails, he will give $20,000 to the institute.

    Francona said this week that he is struggling with the change.

    "I'm hanging by a thread,'' Francona said. "I'm going to keep trying, but it's hard.''

    Pay attention to the open sky

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  3. #2
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    Here's how they get you hooked:



    I remember the jingle:

    You're in the big leagues
    When you make a perfect slide
    You're in the big leagues
    When you keep your team alive
    You're in the big leagues
    When you block a shot or two
    You're in the big leagues
    [clap clap]
    When you're in the Big League Chew
    Last edited by Johnny Footstool; 04-27-2007 at 10:54 AM.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  4. #3
    Senor Votto Degenerate39's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    Hamilton always has a big dip in
    Most Vottomatic Player

  5. #4
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    Quote Originally Posted by degenerate10 View Post
    Hamilton always has a big dip in
    A friend of mine is a recovering addict, and he tells me that booze and tobacco are indeed gateway drugs, but the gate swings both ways. In other words, while those substances can lead you to try more intense drugs, they can also help ween you off those drugs.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  6. #5
    Waiting for a tour/album KittyDuran's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    Quote Originally Posted by degenerate10 View Post
    Hamilton always has a big dip in
    I haven't really seen him with a dip in - but noticed the round tin in his back pocket when he was on base (of course, I was admiring the view as well... ). Does Dunn still dip and smoke?
    2014 Reds record when I'm attending: 23-18 - FINAL
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  7. #6
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    I swallowed part of my chew during a game once... never chewed again.

  8. #7
    Waiting for a tour/album KittyDuran's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    Being around chewers and smokers (mostly men) I just thought that's what men smelled like. My grandfather offered a big chaw for a bee sting when I was little when I couldn't find any good mud - yuck! :
    2014 Reds record when I'm attending: 23-18 - FINAL
    2014 Dragons record when I'm attending: 2-1 - FINAL
    "We want to be the band to dance to when the bomb drops." - Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran

  9. #8
    Yay! dabvu2498's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    Quote Originally Posted by KittyDuran View Post
    Being around chewers and smokers (mostly men) I just thought that's what men smelled like. My grandfather offered a big chaw for a bee sting when I was little when I couldn't find any good mud - yuck! :
    My dad used to do that for my bee stings. Nothing like throwing a fat wad of chewing tobacco on the bottom of a 5 year old's foot.
    When all is said and done more is said than done.

  10. #9
    Yay! dabvu2498's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    Back to the chew issue -- not just baseball players. Ever see Warren Sapp doing a postgame interview? Looks like he's got about half a can in his lip. Ever see Tubby Smith spit in a cup on the sidelines during a UK game? David Duval used to play with a huge lip stretcher in.

    Obviously baseball players are the most blatant ones, but you don't see as many cans in back pockets as you used to.
    When all is said and done more is said than done.

  11. #10
    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    I have been a user of Chewing Tobacco for a long time. I am trying to quit as I type. Haven't had a chew since last week.
    Talent is God Given: be humble.
    Fame is man given: be thankful.
    Conceit is self given: be careful.

    John Wooden

  12. #11
    Member forfreelin04's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN CHAR NC View Post
    I have been a user of Chewing Tobacco for a long time. I am trying to quit as I type. Haven't had a chew since last week.
    You can do it. I've quit twice for a year at a time. Once you quit, just don't ever have a slip up. Whoops, I know that sounds like alotta pressure. But if you relapse with a buddy one time, you will easily be hooked again. Look at gum cancer pics on the Internet. Scare yourself straight if you have too!

  13. #12
    Firin Away Jr's Boy's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    A big chew in the lower lip is a sign of a scrappy ballplayer,speaking of scrappy,you see Freel sometimes chewing.

  14. #13
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    I used to chew in high school. Pretty much our whole baseball team at one time chewed until our 1st baseman quit because of that and he told his dad who was the bank president and we had to stop after that. I didn't chew all the time though. Pretty much only when I was outside working or playing ball. When I got to college I'd chew in my dorm room but that was about it. I stopped on my own and didn't suffer any withdrawal problems. Probably because I didn't chew Copenhagen or Skoal. I'd read about oral cancer and I had a girlfriend who was going to be a nurse tell me about it and so I stopped cold turkey. When I would play softball I would get a hankering for it but that would pass.
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    GR8NESS WMR's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    BIG CHIEF... The BEST
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
    "Cheering for Kentucky is like watching Star Wars and hoping Darth Vader chokes an ewok"


  16. #15
    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball and chew

    Tried it once. It made me dizzy and I didn't feel good the rest of the day. Plus, I heard rumors they put fiberglass in there to help make little cuts in your mouth to get it into your blood stream faster and it freaked me out. So I stuck to the Big League Chew. Personally, I'm fascinated by players who can keep a handful of sunflower seeds in their cheek and spit out the shells while they're on the field. I just know I would end up swallowing a bunch of seeds, shells and all, at the first ground ball hit to me.
    Burn down the disco. Hang the blessed DJ. Because the music that he constantly plays, it says nothing to me about my life.


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