Wha does bubblegum have to do with baseball?

In Ireland we don’t play baseball, but some of the kids do play rounders :stuck_out_tongue:

I have noticed that several reference to bubblegum as being involved with baseball. Most cartoons show batters blowing bubbles of it, and I just read a line in a Stephen King book saying that a baseball player “still smelling of bubblegum”.
Whats the connection between the two?

The most common is that bubble gum companies would sell baseball cards – collectable cards for each player. The practice started out with tabacco, but became the realm of bubble gum companies (notably Topps) in the 1950s. Nowadays, the cards aren’t sold with gum (it would ruin them), but the tradition remains.

Cards in the 50s and 60s did smell of bubblegum and were often stained by the gum. But no one cared, since no one thought they were worth much.

Many players do chew bubblegum, but probably the biggest connection is that baseball trading cards were traditionally distributed with bubble gum. Now most collectors just get them in bulk without the gum.

Because they used to all chew tobacco, and a lot of them quit but continued to chew something (i.e., gum.) There’s also, amusingly, a kind of bubblegum here in the US that’s shredded and comes in a pouch just like chewing tobacco. It’s called “Big League Chew”. I haven’t seen it in a while. :slight_smile:

I looooooved big league chew, but it was an absolute bitch to get unstuck from my braces.

And, man, was that gum that came with the cards just terrible! Not only did it break when you tried to chew it, sometimes it was already in pieces when you opened it!

It’s still around, and still shredded for easy ‘packing’. God, that takes me right back. I can still smell my old glove.

Anyway, the connection between bubble gum and baseball (cards and players) is very traditional and very evocative if you grew up with the sport. I’m sure games like cricket and soccer have similar traditions attached.

I could swear I’ve seen Big League Chew fairly recently. I liked the purple kind when I was a kid.

I suppose baseball players chewed tobacco or gum to keep from getting thirsty while standing out in a hot, dusty field.

It definitely is still available, though not as readily as say, Trident.

I usually saw it at the supermarket’s “random candy” display, on the checkstand that was never used except for storage.

Some still chew or dip tobacco, but as noted, many moved to gum. Others moved over to sunflower seeds so that it is not an uncommon sight to see players spitting out the shells periodically.

They are all just habits developed to pass the many, many boring intervals in a baseball game.

chewing gum (or pretty much anything) helps keep you awake and alert. I have been chewing gum for years for just that reason until recently when I discovered that gum is another source of soy I have to avoid.
yeah suddenly its hard to stay awake at work.

Some places stock it seasonally, such as around the World Series.
I love the stuff and always stock up when I see it, preferably green apple.

Don’t carry it in your pocket through the security checkpoint at the airport, it will trip the metal detector (the foil liner), as was explained to me by the TSA agent who gave me a careful going over after I tripped it twice.

Get a good wad of BLC going and then chew some crushed ice… Whammo! you will get a solid slug of flavor and sugar.

Big League Chew was developed by Wrigley due to a suggestion by ballplayer Jim Bouton.

But the connection between gum and baseball predated Big League Chew, which was introduced in 1980. Baseball cards and gum were introduced in their modern form in 1952, and for kids growing up in the 50s and 60s, the connection was clear.

During most of the time, Topps made all the gum and cards. Bowman competed with them in the early 50s before going under, but after that Topps had all players* sign an exclusive contract with them, so other companies couldn’t get started. At some point, this was challenged in court and other companies (Fleer, Donrus, etc.) got into the game.

The gum in the cards was notoriously bad. Part of this was that it often was stale – the packaging let air in which made the gum hard with a tendency to crack into pieces. Early in the year, it was tolerable, but the standard joke was that it was better to collect the gum and chew the cards.

Topps used to put out the cards in series – low numbers early in the year, higher numbers later. But if the cards didn’t sell, the store would just keep them, with the gum getting staler. In addition, the higher numbers were harder to get, since they were often released after demand had peaked.

*In the 50s, they only signed players that the team thought would have a chance to make the team. They passed on Maury Wills, and, in retaliation, Wills later refused to give his permission. Thus there were no cards with Wills – a big star with the Dodgers during 1960-66 – until he was traded to the Pirates in 1967. After that, Topps signed everyone to exclusive contracts.

I’d like to question this statement as being too Topps-centric. This ignores, first, the sets of note issued in the late 1940s, if we start the “modern era” as being after WWII (the 1948-1949 Leaf, Bowman, starting in 1948).

However, using WWII as the division point is rather flawed. Several major sets tied to gum companies came out in the 1930s and early 1940s (Goudey, Diamond Stars, Play Ball, and others).

That’s what made it different. It would crunch when you chewed it!

I think they made it that way on purpose. It didn’t get as gooey as other gum when it got warm. Hence, it wouldn’t get stuck all over the cards inside the packaging.

Well, they take a break in the middle of cricket matches for tea …