by Adam Benezra
I knew that pretty much most guys dipped tobacco in major league baseball. It's part of the culture. Over the years, I've seen it in most sports, but especially in baseball. The question is when it started and why?
“..smokeless tobacco goes back beyond the 50s, as some believe it was common even during the creation of the sport in the mid to late-1800s.” - Clint Manry article (posted 9 months ago)
The real reason was, of course, for money...
“...tobacco companies turned to sport figures to advance their brand at the same time baseball started entering the average American’s consciousness.” - Steven Martano , The Hardball Times, January 20, 2017
When I was younger, I was curious why anyone would want to shove that crap in their mouths and constantly spit out what looked to be septic waste or a injured spider drenched in oil. I've heard countless stories that smokeless tobacco not only offered nicotine to give you a energy boost but also fulfilled the need to be chewing on something; an oral fixation product. It became a ritual to many. Quite simply, a lot of guys just loved using it.
“As recently as the 1980s, 45 percent of players reported using smokeless tobacco, with many saying it helped their performance.” - Steven Martano , The Hardball Times, January 20, 2017
It was hilarious to me to see guys in movies using smokeless tobacco to spit it all over the place while they were playing baseball. The pitchers were spitting it all over the place...even using it as a tool for their advantage over batters.
“...back in the day, pitchers would use the juice from their chew to help prepare the infamous, but now extinct, spitball” - Clint Manry article (posted 9 months ago)
But it's not just in baseball as we all know. You see smokeless tobacco in every sector of life; military, fishing, hunting, myriad of sports, and maybe even for the ride home. The size of the addressable market is huge, mostly with the male population, and you seem to see it prevalent in baseball more than any other area.
“By 1999, a study found that at least 6.5% of all American males used smokeless tobacco, and despite professional baseball’s attempt to curtail the use of it since then, the global smokeless tobacco market today is valued at almost $14 billion.” - Clint Manry article (posted 9 months ago)
Luckily, the tide is turning. One milestone...a very sad one...was when Tony Gwynn, one of my childhood baseball idols, died from dipping tobacco. This had a huge impact on banning smokeless tobacco in the MLB and the culpability of tobacco companies.
“..in the wake of his(Tony Gwynn) death, several players announced that they would quit their own tobacco habits. In 2016, Gwynn’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company” - Jul 23, 2018 , Emma Baccellieri , Sports Illustrated
I know that when I heard about Tony Gwynn's passing from dipping tobacco and Curt Schilling coming forward to talk about his problems with dipping tobacco, I took notice. It's not that I dip, I don't, but I've seen it everywhere over the years...especially in baseball...which I've always enjoyed watching. In recent years, you have many sports legends talking about the harms of dipping tobacco which is great for the next generation to hear.
“People need to know smokeless does not mean harmless,” Garagiola told SI in 1997. “I call it spit tobacco because it’s gross.” - Jul 23, 2018 , Emma Baccellieri Sports Illustrated
Interestingly enough, now there is a growing industry of tobacco alternatives that help people quit dipping tobacco without having to go “cold turkey.” I feel quite proud that Jake's Mint Chew is part of the solution. Try our tobacco free products today! We offer a wide range of flavors including long cut, pouches and CBD products.