Skip to content

Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit

Mar 7, 2014, 9:42 AM EDT

Ortiz spit

Just about every ballpark you go to plays that Blake Shelton song, “Boys ’round here” during warmups or batting practice:

Yeah the boys ’round here
Drinking that ice cold beer
Talkin’ ’bout girls, talkin’ ’bout trucks
Runnin’ them red dirt roads out, kicking up dust
The boys ’round here
Sending up a prayer to the man upstairs
Backwoods legit, don’t take no s**t
Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit

Not my sort of song, but it’s a freakin’ ear worm anyway. That last line is the one that sticks in my head all the damn time too. I’ve found myself driving around down here going “Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit” at random times. Just awful.

But definitely appropriate for ballparks. Because as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports today, smokeless tobacco use among ballplayers is still pretty popular:

Smokeless tobacco use stubbornly remains a part of baseball, even though Major League Baseball has tried to discourage its use for the last few years because it is known to increase the risk of cancer. While smokeless tobacco use is not as prevalent in baseball as it was several years ago, a survey of the 58 Red Sox players invited to spring training this year found 21 who admitted to using it.

Abraham talks to David Ortiz, Jonny Gomes and many other Red Sox who talk about when they use and why. It’s a really interesting read, mostly because the players tend to talk about how they don’t really like the stuff, don’t do it all the time and aren’t addicted, yet they do it all the same, mostly out of routine. Because, I guess anyway, doing something you don’t particularly like out of habit … is not addiction?

Anyway, go check it out. Good story.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Mar 7, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    Lenny Dykstra used to smoke cigarettes in the dugout when he played for the Phillies, as well as chew tobacco. At least chewing tobacco doesn’t affect the people around the users. I have no problem with it.

    • baberuthslegs - Mar 7, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      Unless they are affected by stepping in the disgusting blob of tobacco spit they just saw come out of some guy’s mouth.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 7, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        Don’t pick up the wrong cup!

      • halladaysbiceps - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        “baberuthslegs” Hahahahahaha!!!!! I love it! Great name!

      • baberuthslegs - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        Thanks ‘ceps.

        “Babe Ruth’s Legs” was the nickname of a real player in the ’20s and ’30s. I put up a picture of his Goudey card here

      • halladaysbiceps - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:57 AM


        Unbelievable! I never heard of Sam Byrd, the guy that pinch-ran for Babe Ruth and his nickname of Babe Ruth’s Legs. Thanks for the info.

        If only Halladay’s Biceps could have stepped in and helped Roy’s arm. Maybe he would be pitching today.

      • moogro - Mar 7, 2014 at 8:42 PM

        Shouldn’t it be spelled baberuthslegts?

    • bronco58lb - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:09 AM

      Keith Hernandez, color commentator on SNY, once shared a story on air when Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog gave him a day off. Hernandez said he went into the clubhouse and grabbed a pack of smokes and a couple beers and sat there in the dugout and enjoyed the game from the bench.

  2. 18thstreet - Mar 7, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    It’s really gross. I had a college roommate who used it.

    It was also crazy addictive. He had such trouble quitting. The only thing that got him to quit was having the flu.

  3. holleywood9 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    I do it. I understand it’s gross to people. Sometimes I don’t even really enjoy it. But I also understand how they only do it during certain times. And aren’t addicted. I chew when I play baseball or softball. That’s twice a week. I wouldn’t call that addicted. When the season is over I stop for months. I assume some are the same way

    • pjmitch - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:08 AM

      Let us know when your chemo starts

      • karlkolchak - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        Dude, as a one-year cancer survivor (who never smoked or chewed other than the very occasional cigar) with fresh memories of chemo hell, let me just say that s**t is nothing to be joked about or wished upon others.

      • 18thstreet - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        Congratulations, Karl. There’s a zillion people who’ve never met you who are happy to hear it.

      • pjmitch - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:31 PM


        I wasn’t joking, but perhaps sarcastic You made my point. Why would anyone, especially if addiction wasn’t the issue, chew or smoke? It blows my mind with all the advertising, medical reports and social stigma, that there are still people that think that smoking or chewing is a good idea. Life is so precious and to knowingly want to take the chance to cut your life short and endure the pain and tragedy that tobacco brings is mind boggling.

        Sorry to hear about your health issue but thank God and Congrats on your recovery. Keep it going. I don’t wish Chemo on anyone, but my point is, why put yourself in a position to go thru what you have, if you can avoid it?

    • happytwinsfan - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      at least the health benefit you get from the physical activity of playing softball is probably considerably greater then the health negative of increased cancer risk from the chew.

  4. rollinghighwayblues - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    I thought Hardball Talk protocol was only to use the Lenny Dykstra picture when discussing chewing tobacco?


    • emdash01 - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      Man, I wish I hadn’t clicked on that…

    • Francisco (FC) - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      That’s tobacco? I thought it was a Denebian slime devil or something equally disgusting migrating into his throat to lay eggs or whatever.

    • billyboots - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      I’ll never forget the image I have burned into my memory of Matt Stairs from a Mother’s Day game several years ago. He had dyed his goatee pink for the game, and when he was sitting in the dugout the camera zoomed in on him and he had a nice brown streak stained in his hair running out the corner of his mouth. Yuck.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        That’s just all kinds of wrong.

  5. favrewillplay4ever - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    I have an “outside” job all year round. Lawn care in non snow months and snow removal during winter. I chew.. And I enjoy it. I am, however, not addicted.

    I spit when I’m outside but much to my wife’s chagrin, I gut it when I’m inside (she hates this aspect and thinks I’m more likely to get cancer this way). I just can’t see myself leaving a cup or a bottle lying around the house just like i couldn’t see myself smoking and effecting everyone else with that nasty smell.

    • pauleee - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      You GUT it!!? How in the world can you do that?

      I tried it one time, once. My friend gives me some, I put it in my cheek. Well, we’re drinking beer but he neglects to tell me that you kind of keep it one cheek and drink past it, so to speak. Suddenly, I have the spins (only two beers in), trip to the bathroom, time on the bathroom floor, sacked out the rest of the afternoon.

      Never again.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        So which one were you?

    • yankees218 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      If you’re not addicted, then stop. If you can’t stop, then you’re addicted.

    • pjmitch - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      ” And I enjoy it. I am, however, not addicted”

      Of Course not.

      • thebadguyswon - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:05 PM

        Yeah…definitely addicted.

  6. mudhead123 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    You can’t chew tobacco and claim cigarettes are nasty. Both are gross, but chewing is by far more nasty

  7. sportsdrenched - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:38 AM


    (Wait, and can’t stand that stuff either.)

  8. offseasonblues - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    “It’s a really interesting read, mostly because the players tend to talk about how they don’t really like the stuff, don’t do it all the time and aren’t addicted, yet they do it all the same, mostly out of routine. Because, I guess anyway, doing something you don’t particularly like out of habit … is not addiction?”

    “I grew up with it,” said Peavy, who grew up and still lives in Alabama. “It was big with my family. Next thing you know, you’re buying cans and you’re addicted to nicotine.”

    I found it interesting that the players were willing to talk about it, and how linked it is with playing baseball and how that makes the habit hard to break during the season, but not in the off season. They all know it’s bad for them, they all acknowledge using in spite of that knowledge. The word habit is completely appropriate in context; I didn’t read it as denial of addiction. That wasn’t the point.

  9. JP - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    I was unable to finish the story as the Blake Shelton song quote sent me into a blind rage death spiral.

  10. jwbiii - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Tobacco juice on a field
    Really disgusting

    • Francisco (FC) - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:38 AM

      Hay it’s Friday Haiku everyone!

    • Gamera the Brave - Mar 7, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      Don’t expectorate
      The unexpectorated
      When playing baseball

  11. shanabartels - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Dipping is still very pervasive in the minors. And it will continue to be a problem if the league doesn’t do a better job of enforcing the ban. It’s so disgusting, too… let alone unhealthy. I just can’t get past that.

  12. migoli - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    It’s a routine thing for me too, I do it mostly wen I play darts at bars and during softball otherwise I don’t really feel a need

  13. butchhuskey - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    This is why I stick to Big League Chew – you can put something in your mouth and don’t have to worry about cancer!

    And everyone likes bubblegum, right?

  14. alang3131982 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    My wife refuses to watch baseball because of all the spitting. i ask, if MLB was serious about standing up to cancer, wouldnt they prohibit this sort of action from taking place? Or does chew not lead to cancer?

  15. ez4u2sa - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    MLB should ban smokeless tobacco starting TOMORROW! There is nothing more significant that could be done to protect the health of the players and the image of the game. Watching players constantly spit is disgusting.

    • anxovies - Mar 7, 2014 at 3:01 PM


  16. paperlions - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    As bad as that song may be, it can’t be any worse that the 2 songs I had in my head for 2 days.

    That freaking Filet-O-Fish song (the new one with the dudes in the sub)


    The “Weiner Weiner Weiner” song from the South Park episode with GRRM in it.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      You should be more out of touch like me. I have no idea what any of those songs sound like.

      • paperlions - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        You want links?

      • historiophiliac - Mar 7, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        No, I’m good. I cultivate not being in on current cultural things (with a very few exceptions). I probably wouldn’t even know as much as I do if it weren’t for the folks on here.

  17. anxovies - Mar 7, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Tobacco is a dirty weed.
    I like it.
    It satisfies no normal need.
    I like it.
    It makes you thin, it makes you lean,
    It takes the hair right off your bean.
    It’s the worst darn stuff I’ve ever seen.
    I like it.

  18. moogro - Mar 7, 2014 at 8:43 PM

    Big league chew is a gateway drug.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. G. Stanton (2519)
  2. C. Correa (2517)
  3. Y. Puig (2512)
  4. B. Crawford (2403)
  5. H. Pence (2273)
  1. G. Springer (2224)
  2. H. Ramirez (2158)
  3. M. Teixeira (2144)
  4. J. Hamilton (2126)
  5. J. Baez (2097)