The Love Affair Between Tobacco and Baseball
During its infancy, baseball was a simple ball and bat game played in Europe. Americans embraced the sport and the game evolved along with the country. By the time the first baseball rules were written and implemented, chewless tobacco and contemplating the next play went hand in hand.
The nation's first crop of professional baseball players got a good portion of their energy from chewing tobacco. Nicotine is a natural stimulant known for causing the most powerful of addictions. Players would often grab a pinch, put it in their cheek so they could concentrate and nail whatever play they were trying to execute. Additionally, the process of chewing kept a players moist during play as the process naturally increases saliva production.
The earliest users and producers of the product knew only of the perks, not the health risks associated with smoking or smokeless tobacco use. As baseball grew more popular and the art of advertising (and sponsorship) was born, marketing bigwigs thought there was no better marriage than using the faces of baseball to promote tobacco companies.
It was this relationship that gave birth to a number of national trends. The very first baseball cards were not produced by chewing gum companies, but were promotional pieces for the American Tobacco Company's line of products. That is not tobacco's only influence on the game as in 1860, the word "bullpen" (where game players warmed up) was coined when the Blackwell Tobacco Company releases Bull Durham brand tobacco. Advertisements for that brand covered outfield fences and the warm up areas nearby earned the nickname of bullpens (Heckle Depot, Retrieved July 2, 2010.).
This incestuous relationship between the unlikely bedfellows continued for decades as from the 1920s to the 1940s, major tobacco brands started to pay players directly for their product endorsements. That only started to retract when some of the most popular baseball players started to die because of their chew habits and was followed by the implementation of the Cigarette Advertising Code in 1964.
Risks of Chewing Tobacco
Some superstitions states that letting the juice from chewing tobacco linger about is responsible for bringing good luck but nothing can be further from the truth. Sadly, baseball fans and players learned that the hard way when Babe Ruth died in 1948 of throat cancer caused by his chew habit.
As time has gone on, more players and baseball industry insiders have been infected with disease from their chew habit, further highlighting the dark side of the addiction. The reality is that smokeless tobacco causes slews of health and dental problems including (but not limited to):
Estimates suggest that annually over 56 million people watch the World Series and baseball is viewed by countless other folks during the course of the year. Because the game is so visible, it is still a top choice for advertisers however there are plenty of efforts including the new baseball legislation that is being set forward to break the connection between Major League Baseball and chew.
Regardless of it is chew, smoking or second-hand smoke, tobacco will negatively impact health and can potentially kill. Tobacco in any form is one of the worst vices for dental health and general well being. Individuals should make stopping the habit their top New Year's resolution and once secession has been achieved, getting professional dental care from a dentist can help keep oral health on point. Need to find a dentist? Simply call 1-800-DENTIST and we will help!