Seeing a batter spit as he approaches the plate or a pitcher nod to his catcher and spit before starting his wind-up is as much a part of baseball as peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
It seems that most players on the field during a MLB game has a dip, or wad of smokeless chewing tobacco, in his mouth.
“It’s been a part of baseball for years and years,” said Cosumnes River College baseball head coach Tony Bloomfield.
The MLB added a restriction on the use and visibility of smokeless chewing tobacco to their contracts in 2012.
Players, coaches, managers and other team personnel can no longer carry a can or package of chewing tobacco on themselves while on the field or while fans are in the ballpark. They are also restricted from using smokeless chewing tobacco during on-camera interviews, autograph signings and fan meet-and-greets.
Student athletes at CRC are not allowed to use tobacco products during the intercollegiate athletic season of their sport, according to the CRC Athletes’ Handbook.
Bloomfield does his best to enforce the restriction of the use of chewing tobacco by his players but acknowledges that he “can’t control what they do when they leave the field.”
Advocates of the MLB restrictions believe it is the first step in curtailing the use of smokeless chewing tobacco and the influence it has over young players wanting to mimic their heroes.
“I always saw David Wright come off the field, I would see the dip in his mouth and it always just fascinated me,” said sophomore pitcher Ryan King.
Major league players and their behaviors do influence the youth watching them play.
“I grew up and I saw the major leaguers do it, I wanted to be like them,” King said. “I realized that it really wasn’t that good for me so I just stopped.”
Some people use smokeless chewing tobacco as an alternative to smoking cigarettes.
“It’s exchanging one unhealthy habit for another,” said CRC nurse Michelle Barkley.
The risks of using chewing tobacco include oral cancer, oral infection, stomach irritations and bleeds, cavities, the loss of part of the tongue and more, Barkley said.
King believes that chewing tobacco in baseball has been going on for so long that it has “become the social norm.”
Candy makers have gotten in on the action with Big League Chew bubble gum, which now offers you the ability to personalize your pouch with your own photo.
Bloomfield said that kids often emulate the things that they see.
“You just inform [the players], you give them the handouts that we have for them and they make their choices,” Bloomfield said.