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Baseball and the Slow Death of Chewing Tobacco

Baseball has many things that are an integral part of game. Unfortunately, chewing tobacco has been tied to baseball for as long as the game has been played. Like most things in baseball, change is slow and grueling. Players can still be seen with a dip in their mouth even though 16 of the 30 MLB stadiums have banned the use of smokeless tobacco. It’s still part of the game and the Twins are no stranger to tobacco use.
Image courtesy of © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Slow Change, a Baseball Tradition
College baseball banned smokeless tobacco in 1990 and the minor leagues quickly followed suit in 1993. Over the last 26 years, Major League Baseball has only made gradual changes to their chewing tobacco policies.

As part of the 2012 collective bargaining agreement, the league banned players from carrying tobacco packages or tin in their pockets at any time when the ballpark was open to fans. They also couldn’t use it as part of pregame or postgame interviews.

MLB took it one step further with the 2016 collective bargaining agreement by banning smokeless tobacco for all new major league players. Players already in the big leagues were grandfathered in under this rule so they would still be able to use smokeless tobacco. In 2015, a study found that 37% of MLB players and coaches used smokeless tobacco. This total is almost six times higher than the national average for males (6.4%).

Many cities and states across the country have put in place laws to ban smokeless tobacco in public places. As of June, smokeless tobacco is now banned in over half of major-league stadiums. Minnesota is not one of the 16 stadiums to be included in the ban.
Attached Image: KTOOP_Graphic_16-teams.png
Minnesota’s Clubhouse
Almost all current members of the Minnesota Twins were big leaguers in 2016 so they would be grandfathered in under the current collective bargaining agreement. As recently as 2016, legislation in Minnesota was introduced to ban the use of tobacco at Target Field and CHS Field.

“In general, Major League Baseball and the Twins are supportive of legislative efforts and any efforts to ban smokeless tobacco,” Twins president Dave St. Peter told the Pioneer Press. “It’s long been baseball’s position that it’s something we’d like to get out of our game.”

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has been clear on the league’s stance when it comes to chewing tobacco. “For many years we’ve been clear about baseball’s stance on smokeless tobacco,” Manfred said. “It’s banned in the minor leagues. We have proposed on a number of occasions a similar ban at the big-league level. We’ve not been able to negotiate it.”

In 2014, Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn tragically passed away at age 54 from salivary-gland cancer. At the time, some players swore off using chewing tobacco for their own health and families. That still hasn’t stopped current players. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, two players the Twins are supposed to build around, have both been known smokeless tobacco users. There are no doubt other players on the team that have a similar addiction.

More cities and states will take action in the years ahead. Fewer players will be grandfathered under the current collective bargaining agreement. Chewing tobacco, a baseball staple, is dying a slow death, but thankfully it might not be part of the baseball world future generations will know.

Should baseball do more about chewing tobacco? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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90 Comments

You seriously didn't notice? I'm betting you did notice but just don't remember. Dipping was a huge part of baseball culture which is why this topic was started. If you seriously don't remember, send a question to Bert or Dan and I'm sure they'll gladly talk about it on the air for you.

I can only imagine how disgusting dugouts were until recently. Being the janitor who had to mop all of the dip spit off the floor and empty the spit buckets after each game would have been a terrible job.

True, players can do whatever they want to do at home. When Manfred talks about banning it, he's not talking about what players do on their free time. Can you think of many workplaces in 2019 that are supportive of dipping while at work? Yes, when I lived in Austin there was always a country boy who would keep his little styrofoam cup with him all the time to spit in at work. This was certainly the minority, though.

Wouldn’t a product like big league chew, even though it’s obviously gum, do more to influence kids than a player actually doing it in a game? That’s probably the only reason I even knew what chew was at an early age and I’ve always been a huge baseball fan.

Also, dugouts are still disgusting, but mostly because the players just throw their trash wherever the want to, except of course for the garbage can. Take a look at a dugout floor next time you watch a game. Some role models!

You seriously didn't notice? I'm betting you did notice but just don't remember. Dipping was a huge part of baseball culture which is why this topic was started. If you seriously don't remember, send a question to Bert or Dan and I'm sure they'll gladly talk about it on the air for you.

I can only imagine how disgusting dugouts were until recently. Being the janitor who had to mop all of the dip spit off the floor and empty the spit buckets after each game would have been a terrible job.

True, players can do whatever they want to do at home. When Manfred talks about banning it, he's not talking about what players do on their free time. Can you think of many workplaces in 2019 that are supportive of dipping while at work? Yes, when I lived in Austin there was always a country boy who would keep his little styrofoam cup with him all the time to spit in at work. This was certainly the minority, though.


I could have noticed but obviously it didn't resonate with me. It's not like I saw Tony Gwynn with a dip in, investigate what it was, and actively pursue it.

No organization is supportive or encourages dipping in the office. Of course they want all of their employees to be healthy. I know a couple of kids that dip at my work. It's easier to hide than smoking cigs for sure...

 

That’s a really bizarre way of looking at it. You don’t care about another person’s personal liberties until they sit next to you.

Well, what about mine? It's a two-way street. You asked for preference. I gave you my preference.

 

Wouldn’t a product like big league chew, even though it’s obviously gum, do more to influence kids than a player actually doing it in a game? That’s probably the only reason I even knew what chew was at an early age and I’ve always been a huge baseball fan.

Also, dugouts are still disgusting, but mostly because the players just throw their trash wherever the want to, except of course for the garbage can. Take a look at a dugout floor next time you watch a game. Some role models!

 

Sure. And "Big League Chew" existed because baseball players were known to use chewing tobacco. It was invented solely so children could pretend to be baseball players.

Sure. And "Big League Chew" existed because baseball players were known to use chewing tobacco. It was invented solely so children could pretend to be baseball players.


Actually is was developed by players who didn’t want to chew tobacco but wanted to chew something. It’s similar to how candy cigarettes used to be available to kids. I gotta believe that affects more kids than what grown ballplayers are doing.

Well, what about mine? It's a two-way street. You asked for preference. I gave you my preference.


I just think it’s disingenuos to prefer sitting next to a guy who’s acting so obnoxiously he gets removed from a game, rather than someone spitting in to a cup.

I just think it’s disingenuos to prefer sitting next to a guy who’s acting so obnoxiously he gets removed from a game, rather than someone spitting in to a cup.


Personally, I’d rather sit next to neither individuals. But you asked a question, I gave you an answer. And I gave you an answer based on personal experience having sat next to two such individuals at games. Sorry you don’t like one person’s opinion on a disgusting habit, but if you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask the question.
    • Thrylos, Twins33 and Nine of twelve like this

 

I just think it’s disingenuos to prefer sitting next to a guy who’s acting so obnoxiously he gets removed from a game, rather than someone spitting in to a cup.

 

Disingenuous?

 

Sorry.People spitting in cups (and floors) and sticking their fingers in their mouths to pull tobacco remnants triggers my gag response more than drunk clowns.

 

Your mileage might vary, but, telling you, some of us find that pretty disgusting...

    • SQUIRREL likes this

Personally, I’d rather sit next to neither individuals. But you asked a question, I gave you an answer. And I gave you an answer based on personal experience having sat next to two such individuals at games. Sorry you don’t like one person’s opinion on a disgusting habit, but if you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask the question.


And worse would be if said individuals were actually one and the same. That would actually be a ‘hell ho’ situation and I’d be looking for an empty seat somewhere else to sit. Along with a complaint to guest services, even if they can’t really do anything about it.

Personally, I’d rather sit next to neither individuals. But you asked a question, I gave you an answer. And I gave you an answer based on personal experience having sat next to two such individuals at games. Sorry you don’t like one person’s opinion on a disgusting habit, but if you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask the question.


It’s not that I didn’t want to hear your answer, I just think you’re full of baloney. No hard feelings, were all twins fans here.

 

It’s not that I didn’t want to hear your answer, I just think you’re full of baloney. No hard feelings, were all twins fans here.

There's no baloney anywhere here. Again, you don't like my answer because it doesn't meet up with yours. Now, stop it. 

    • Twins33 and Nine of twelve like this

Disingenuous?
 
Sorry.People spitting in cups (and floors) and sticking their fingers in their mouths to pull tobacco remnants triggers my gag response more than drunk clowns.
 
Your mileage might vary, but, telling you, some of us find that pretty disgusting...


I personally wouldn’t do it at a game if I were sitting next to someone for that very reason. But I’m not going to get someone removed or make a complaint if somebody was doing something that had no affect on my health or well being.

There's no baloney anywhere here. Again, you don't like my answer because it doesn't meet up with yours. Now, stop it.


You stop it ;)

 

You stop it ;)

You are about to be slapped. Now go in the corner and spit. ;)

You are about to be slapped. Now go in the corner and spit. ;)


I’m about to go golfing, I think tobacco is frowned upon there too. We’re persecuted I tell ya!

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