why do baseball players chew gum

Why Do Baseball Players Chew Gum? (Top 5 Reasons)

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why do baseball players chew gum

Baseball players and their love for chewing gum is as classic a combo as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s a common sight to see them popping and chewing gum on the field, but it might make you pause and think, why do baseball players chew gum in the first place? In this article, we’re going to dive into the reasons why do baseball players chew gum, looking at the possible advantages, the superstitions they might hold, and the cultural impact of this practice.

So, whether you’re a hardcore fan of baseball or just someone who’s intrigued by the quirks of the game, stick with us to uncover why chewing gum has stuck around in baseball culture.

Why Do Baseball Players Chew Gum?

1. Assists in concentration

Baseball players chew gum during games for a number of reasons. The primary one is that it helps them remain more alert while also improving their ability to concentrate and focus.

Every baseball player must maintain a high level of awareness and concentration at all times. Because of this, baseball players will chew gum to assist them in increasing their focus and attention on the game and they may also be able to significantly improve their performance.

2. Reduces tension

Chewing gum has a calming effect that’s perfect for baseball players. Baseball’s all about timing. Sure, it might seem slow sometimes, but when things heat up, they move fast.

Think about it. Pitches come in at up to 100 miles per hour, and a ball off a bat can fly even faster. That’s why you’ll find players chewing gum—to keep calm and stay sharp in those rapid-fire moments.

Research suggests that gum can help with stress and nerves, a big plus for players in the hot seat. And though science hasn’t confirmed it, many players swear that chewing gum helps them shake off the jitters and stay cool in the game’s most intense moments.

Plus, there’s a chance that gum might just boost hand-eye coordination, a must-have for those quick reactions on the field.

3. Removes dirt

Baseball players who get into the game often find themselves wearing a bit of the field by the end of the day. Take a good slide into second base, and you’re likely to come up tasting the infield. This is even more common on the dusty diamonds of local parks and Little League fields.

Chewing gum comes in handy here. It gets the saliva flowing, which not only brings back a bit of moisture to a dry mouth but also helps ditch that gritty taste of the diamond. Plus, as they chew, players can trap dirt in a spit wad and then simply spit them out.

4. An alternative to chewing tobacco

In the wake of Major League Baseball clamping down on chewing tobacco, players have been scouting for healthier habits to take its place. Enter chewing gum—gumballs, sticks, and all sorts of flavors offering a safe harbor from the harmful effects of tobacco.

Gum gives players that familiar chew without the health gamble. It’s a smooth switch, keeping their jaws moving and the muscle memory intact, all while ditching the risks that come with dip.

5. Avoid having a dry mouth

Another key reason baseball players chew gum is to fend off dry mouth. Baseball is often played on dusty fields under the blazing sun. Players, especially those out in the field, can’t exactly take water breaks whenever they wish. Chewing gum is their stealthy solution—it keeps the saliva flowing and wards off the cottonmouth feeling.

Bubble gum brands have even stepped up to the plate, crafting gums aimed specifically at keeping athletes’ mouths from going dry during the game.

History Of Gum-Chewing In Baseball

While it’s hard to nail down the exact moment players started reaching for a stick of gum, the habit has been well-established for over a century. It’s said that the tradition really took off in the 1980s, but its roots can be traced back to the early 1900s when players were looking for ways to keep their mouths from drying out and to stay alert during long games.

One pivotal moment in this chewy saga was the creation of Big League Chew in 1977 by a pitcher who sought a tobacco-free chewing option. This gum, shredded and packed like tobacco, became a hit. It was even sold at Wrigley Field, a stadium named for a gum magnate.

The connection between gum and baseball was further cemented by players who chewed for various reasons. Some for the practical purpose of keeping dust at bay, others for the mental edge it provided, and some out of sheer superstition.

Today, gum remains a fixture in baseball, from the dugouts to the stands. It’s a symbol of the sport’s history and its players’ quest for focus, relaxation, and a bit of fun.

Baseball Superstition

Superstition is a big part of baseball culture. Many players have specific rituals and habits that they believe will bring them luck on the field. For some players, chewing gum is part of this ritual. For example, former Red Sox player Wade Boggs chewed exactly 150 pieces of gum during each game he played. He believed that this routine helped him perform better.

Other players might have different beliefs or superstitions associated with chewing gum. For example, some might believe that they need to chew a certain flavor or brand of gum to play well. Or that they need to chew a certain number of pieces before each at-bat. While there’s no scientific evidence to support these beliefs, they’re an important part of baseball culture and contribute to the overall mystique of the sport.

Baseball Chewing Gum And Mental Health

Chewing gum during baseball games is associated with several intriguing psychological benefits, while also helping to curb the urge to indulge in unhealthy snacking by keeping the mouth occupied.

Additionally, chewing gum can enhance your concentration and alertness which are vital during a long game lasting several hours. Anyone who’s watched a Red Sox-Yankees matchup understands.

The fact that chewing gum helps you ward off exhaustion, however, is without a doubt the most beneficial aspect. It offers your body a boost of energy, which is why so many baseball players do it.

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What Brands Of Gum Are Commonly Used By Baseball Players?

Big League Chew stands out as the go-to bubble gum for baseball players, famous for its gum shreds in a pouch that prevents dry mouths during games. It’s a hit, with over 800 million pouches sold and the honor of being the official gum of Ripken Baseball.

Wrigley’s also scores big with players for its flavor. Other favorites in the mix include Bubble Yum, Bazooka, and Dubble Bubble. While players might pick different flavors and textures, these brands have all found a home in baseball culture.

Baseball Gum Alternatives

Not every player is into gum. Some are all about sunflower seeds, and a few still lean towards chewing tobacco, even though it’s a no-go in MLB parks. There are a ton of choices, and each one’s got its ups and downs. It boils down to what feels right for the player.

Some guys stick with tobacco, despite the ban, because they swear by the lasting pick-me-up it gives them. Plus, it supposedly has a calming effect that can help players relax and stay loose during games.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are a home run for players looking for a boost. They’re loaded with protein for muscle repair, healthy fats for lasting energy, and antioxidants to ease inflammation. Plus, cracking them open can be a zen moment, helping players zone in and chill out.

They’re a favorite for a reason: they’re an affordable, dual-threat snack that can sharpen both body and mind. When it comes to choosing what to munch, it’s all about personal preference and what keeps a player at the top of their game.

Final Thoughts – Why Do Baseball Players Chew Gum

Every baseball player is on the lookout for that little something extra to give them an advantage, and that’s where gum comes into play. It’s not just about fresh breath. It’s about staying sharp, keeping cool under pressure, and keeping your mouth from turning into a desert. Some players even believe that gum helps them regulate their breathing, which is no small thing when you’re up against a fastball zooming at 90 mph.

Chris F.

Chris F.

Chris Forbes is the founder and editor of BaseballMode.com, a leading blog in the youth baseball space. As a lifelong baseball player, coach and fan, he decided to team up with his young son to offer advice and share their experiences with the sport they both love. Chris lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children.

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