Despite health warnings and minor league prohibition, Major League players continue to chew tobacco on the field and in the dugout. Players have become more discreet but brown expectorations still spew forth on the diamond. Of course in the era when there was no stigma attached to tobacco use of all kinds, the distended cheeks of “chaw” chomping players were clearly pictured on many baseball cards. Let’s take a journey down tobacco road and examine some classic stuffed mandibles.
No player epitomizes the “chaw shot” better than Rocky Bridges. This ’59 comes complete with a squinted eye due to the cheek protrusion. It is difficult to find a card or picture of Rocky without a “chaw” in.
Rod Carew claimed that a cheek wad tightened the right side of his face and help prevent blinking. Here’s a ’75 SSPC showing a tightly packed cheek.
Nellie Fox was another player seldom seen without a “chaw” of “Favorite,” a brand whose advertisements prominently featured him. This ’63 is a classic example.
Luis Tiant is associated with tobacco products whether it be cigars or plug. This ’77 provides a good look at Luis’ wad.
Don Zimmer’s jowls were seldom empty of “Bull Durham” in both his playing and managing days as this ’64 and ’73 attest.
No matter if he was on the Senators, Twins, Indians, Yankees or Phillies, a Pedro Ramos card was guaranteed to feature a facial bulge as this ’66 demonstrates.
This ‘62 shows Harvey Kuenn enjoying a mouth full at the new Candlestick Park.
Jack Aker could never resist biting off a “twist” before having his picture snapped as this ’69 shows.
Although just a rookie, this ’70 Al Severinsen shows he is already a seasoned veteran of the spittoon.
This ‘64 Giant of journeyman Juan Pizzaro is typical of his jaw bursting card photos.
Perhaps the champion of the cheek bulge belongs to Larry “Bobo” Osborne. This ’62 shot shows a very impressive load capacity.
Obviously I could feature many more examples, but I will close with Bill Tuttle. This ’63 card shows Bill with the bulging cheek. Most of you are familiar with the story of Tuttle developing oral cancer which was directly attributed to chewing. Several operations left him severely disfigured. He toured spring training camps in hopes of persuading players to give up spit tobacco. He died at age 69 in 1998. The fact that players still choose to chew despite all the negative health effects is mind-boggling.
If you have a favorite “chaw shot” card, leave a comment or Tweet a picture.