'Chew' is common among pro baseball players

I seldom watch sports, but I was watching the World Series and was shocked! Shocked to see how much spitting goes on by the players. Do the fans do that, too? Do they do that in other sports? It seems to me it would be really hazardous in basketball and would certainly be yucky when you tackle someone in football on a spittle-laden field. Where does all that spit go? The dugout must be gross by the end of the game.

— Liz


Spitting is a common sight among Major League Baseball players because many continue to use chewing tobacco, or "chew."

Eating sunflower seeds is also a common pastime during practices and at games, with players filling their cheeks with sunflower seeds, shelling each one hands-free with tongue and teeth, and spitting out the shell while chewing up the seed.

For more than a century, chewing tobacco has been a part of baseball, with players moistening their gloves with spit and pitchers using the juice to prepare spitballs, although spitballs were later banned.

Although the Major League Baseball union has resisted efforts to ban chewing tobacco among big-leaguers, players in the minor leagues have been banned from using chew since 1993. In recent years, some cities have banned tobacco use at stadiums, which impacts Major League Baseball players.

Under a new collective bargaining agreement, rookies called up from the minors cannot use chewing tobacco.

The hope is that the chewing tobacco tradition will eventually fade away as older, addicted players age out or give up the habit, which can lead to cancer, gum disease and other health problems.

Sunflower seeds are banned at some baseball venues, including at many facilities with artificial turf, such as some high school baseball fields and spring training facilities. Many other venues exhort players and fans to spit into paper cups.

Some professional football and basketball players also use chewing tobacco, but the habit has never been as widespread in those sports.

In basketball, spitting on the court would be a faux pas that could cause the game to come to a screeching halt. Attendants regularly move in quickly to wipe up anything that could cause a player to slip, including sweat when a player is knocked to the floor.

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