America’s Pastime

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The weather is finally coming around, and spring is in the air. For some people, this means that their favorite outdoor activities can finally begin. One of my favorite outdoor activities is taking in a baseball game at Target Field. I also like to travel and see games in different stadiums. I have been to AT&T Park in San Francisco, Miller Park in Milwaukee, Coors Field in Denver, and later this summer I will see the Twins take on the Angels at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. There are many differences in each of these ballparks, but the one similarity happens to be a highly debated topic that is currently going through the first year growing pains. Smokeless tobacco by players in stadiums. This issue has actually been a tradition in the game. Who hasn’t watched a game and seen their favorite players with a big dip in their mouth?

San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles have passed laws against smokeless tobacco being allowed in their major league stadiums that are already intact. Chicago and New York recently joined this list. The entire state of California passed a similar bill that will go into effect starting in 2017. This idea has been proposed for Target Field, but has not yet passed. Campaigns such as “Knock Tobacco Out of The Park” have long been proposing to remove this dangerous habit from the game. The biggest fear is that young kids are seeing this habit, which is a horrible and dangerous example. (Visit the campaigns website more information. )

The Houston Astro’s opened their season against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Little did they know that they would be the first players to be taking part in this new era of tobacco-free stadiums. According to ESPN, , an estimated 30% of major league ball players use chewing tobacco. By this time next year, possibly ten ballparks will be tobacco free. The hope is to cut the usage down.

I grew up watching baseball. I played baseball through high school and continue to watch the game nicknamed “America’s Pastime”. One of my favorite players, Tony Gwynn, recently lost his battle with cancer. He blamed cancer on the chewing habit that consumed his career. I don’t necessarily agree with players needing to be better role models. This responsibility was lost in the late 90’s when the steroid era took over the game. We must teach our children the right and wrong and not leave the responsibility up to professional athletes. For that reason alone, the campaign discussed earlier does not impact my opinion on smokeless tobacco use by players. It’s stories like the loss of Tony Gwynn that impact my opinion. The Hall of Famer was taken from this world too soon. If we can prevent this from happening again by eliminating this habit from the game, I support that.


4 thoughts on “America’s Pastime

  1. Yeah its a shame about Tony Gwynn, he was amazing. Its sad because its so engrained into the sport. Madison Bumgarner claims he’s been chewing since he was in 7th grade.

  2. As a wife of a former college baseball player who chews tobacco, I can tell you it was a pro athlete’s influence that prompted my husband, Aric to start chewing at the age of 16. Aric will tell you that the best way to quit chewing is to never start. Now, my husband is responsible for his own actions and choices, but I do have to say, if smokeless tobacco were banned from baseball back in the early 80’s, maybe he wouldn’t have been enticed while watching some of the “greats” play his favorite sport with a big lump in their mouth. One statement that lured Aric into chewing was, it is something to help pass the time in the field and doesn’t tear up the insides of your mouth like sunflower seeds! Hmmm…I guess I would rather have my cheeks and tongue raw from seeds than start an addictive, cancer-causing habit that Dr.’s have told my husband is as hard to quit as heroine! BUT, just like cigarettes were made to be glamorous in the movies from the 20’s through the 60’s, smokeless tobacco is made to be macho and masculine in the game of baseball. (Look at Big League Chew Bubble Gum!) I’m thankful for the new bans!!

  3. Just wanted to say that it is a shame that we have one of the nicest ballparks here in Minnesota and we have the worst team to go with it. This post is interesting because chewing tobacco in the dugout is part of baseballs past time. So the fact that many stadiums are removing it might be taking away from the game (to some people, not me). But at the same time, MLB players who are looked upon by little kids should not be chewing tobacco in the first place as it is a bad example. Im glad that many stadiums are taking this step.


  4. Great post Tim. I would tend to agree with you the stories of what’s happening to the greats of the game is more likely to sway people than simply banning it in the park.

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