California to big-league ballplayers: Stop dipping

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California Bans Chewing Tobacco In Baseball Parks

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- California lawmakers have taken the first step toward accomplishing something Major League Baseball could never do on its own: Stop players from using smokeless tobacco.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last weekend banning the use of smokeless tobacco in all California ballparks. And with his signature, a practice dating to the days of Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb now seems headed toward the sport's endangered species list.

Although California is only one state, it is home to five of Major League Baseball's 30 teams, and team owners themselves have been pressing for a ban for years. Last May they got one in San Francisco, home of the reigning World Series champion Giants. In August they got another in Boston, site of fabled Fenway Park, and Los Angeles was considering the idea, which is supported by the hometown Dodgers.

SEE MORE: Can Arrieta or Keuchel be this year's Bumgarner?

Major League Baseball still needs buy-in from the players, however, because the statewide ban that takes effect before next season has no provision for enforcement.

"The question we've been asked is are we going to have police officers walking around checking lips, and no, that's not the case," said Opio Dupree, chief of staff to Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, who introduced the bill. "It's going to be left to the team and the league."

Interviews with players in recent years indicate that many are ready to quit - if they can.

"I grew up with it," pitcher Jake Peavy told the Boston Globe last year when the newspaper polled 58 players the Boston Red Sox had invited to spring training and found 21 were users.

"It was big with my family," said Peavy, who is now with the Giants. "Next thing you know, you're buying cans and you're addicted to nicotine."

He added he would like to quit to set a better example for his sons.

Last year's World Series MVP, Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, also uses smokeless tobacco. He told The Associated Press earlier this year he planned to quit after San Francisco became the first city in the nation to adopt a ban. That one, like the statewide provision, also takes effect next year.

SEE MORE: Ranking the 25 players of the last 25 years

"I'll be all right. I can quit," Bumgarner said in August. "I quit every once in a while for a little while to make sure I can do it."

Use of smokeless tobacco has been banned in the minor leagues for more than 20 years, but Major League Baseball and its players union haven't been able to reach agreement on a similar restriction. Players and coaches are prohibited from chewing tobacco during television interviews and can't be seen carrying tobacco products when fans are in the ballparks. But use during the game continues, though it's different than it used to be.

Gone for the most part are players like New York Yankees reliever Sparky Lyle who stuffed wads of chewing tobacco in their cheeks. Now players are more apt to "dip." They place pinches of tobacco between their lip and gum. It produces saliva but not the streams of spit seen with chaws of tobacco.

Christian Zwicky, a former Southern California Babe Ruth League most valuable player who grew up watching the Dodgers play, said he never cared for seeing all that tobacco chewing and the spitting of tobacco juice that follows.

It didn't influence him to take up the practice, the 22-year-old college student said, but he can see how it might have affected others.

"I understand the sentiment there," said Zwicky, who added he's not a big fan of government regulation but supports this law. "You don't want these people that kids look up to using these products that could influence children in a negative way."

Moves to adopt a comprehensive ban have been gaining support in recent years, fueled by such things as last year's death of popular Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres, who blamed his mouth cancer on years of chewing tobacco. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, a cancer survivor, has also taken up the cause.

"It's a tough deal for some of these players who have grown up playing with it and there are so many triggers in the game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the AP earlier this year.

"I certainly don't endorse it," said Bochy, an on-and-off-again user for decades. "With my two sons, the one thing I asked them is don't ever start dipping."


Ranking MLB stadiums
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California to big-league ballplayers: Stop dipping

30. Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays

The playing surface is a mixture of grass and artificial turf, and there are fire inspection rings in play over head. Must be a joy to play in.

(AP Photo)

29. Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays

The only things worse than this warehouse-looking place are the metric measurements on the outfield walls.


28. Coliseum, Oakland A's

Any place sewage seeps back through the clubhouse drains probably isn’t a suitable location for pro sports.

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

27. Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas Rangers

Remember when this place was state of the art? Neither do we.

(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)

26. U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago White Sox

What’s more bland than the Chicago White Sox? Their uniforms. What’s worse than that? The stadium.

(AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

25. Turner Field, Atlanta Braves

This place won’t live to see its 20th birthday. Good luck to the Braves’ next home, which will probably still always be empty, too.

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

24. Marlins Park, Miami Marlins

Makes perfect sense for an orange and teal team to play in a stadium with neon green everything. Also, has anyone ever figured out what exactly this is? 

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

23. Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Angels

Nothin’ like some fake rocks in center field to really set the mood for a baseball game.


22. Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians

The fact that it’s no longer Jacobs Field bumps this down at least five spots.


21. Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals

Can this place just stay out of the playoffs just once?


20. Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati Reds

How cheap is that wind tunnel?

 (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

19. Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks

Center field is the deepest part of the stadium, guys. The wall doesn’t need to be that high.

Clintus McGintus/Flickr

18. Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees

Great place to see the best baseball players of the 20th century.

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

17. Miller Park, Milwaukee Brewers

Bernie sliding down that slide for every home run is ridiculous and awesome at the same time. Every time.

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

16. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies

Once you get over the fact that some little league parks have deeper fences? Cool place to catch a game.

 (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

15. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers

They should probably just name it Vin Scully Stadium at this point. Might help them out in these rankings.

 (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

14. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals

The scoreboard being shaped like a long crown is a bit odd, but you can’t blame them for playing up the whole royalty thing.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

13. Coors Field, Colorado Rockies

If it’s not a blizzard in Denver, Coors Field is still pretty impressive. But let’s lose those humidors and get these balls flying like its 2001. 

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

12. Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers

Credit to the grounds crew for making sure the infield didn’t collapse through the ground while Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera manned the corners. That approached a good 600 pounds of man.

 (AP Photo/Matt Halip)

11. Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros

Get back to us next year, once that ridiculous hill and flag pole are scrapped.

(AP Photo/Bob Levey)

10. Target Field, Minnesota Twins

You probably won’t want to sit outside in Minnesota until about mid-June, but after that, Target Field is tough to beat.

 (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

9. Citi Field, New York Mets

Ownership may be fresh out of cash, but at least its stadium has an awesome selection of $12 beers. 

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

8. Nationals Park, Washington Nationals

It’s been seven years, and the team just can’t sell these naming rights. Strangely, this makes the park even cooler.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

7. Safeco Field, Seattle Mariners

For a stadium that opened up in 1999, the Mariners’ digs have held up pretty well -- even when their roster hasn’t.

 (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

6.. Petco Park, San Diego Padres

Fun fact: An old candy factory building was physically moved to make room for the stadium. 

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

5. Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox

Relax, Fenway is definitely an amazing place to watch a game. But sitting directly behind a pole and/or facing the left-center field wall just isn’t always appealing.


4. Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs

We’re glad the Cubs decided to keep their old home intact, but there’s no two ways about it: Until renovation is complete, Wrigley is a dump.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

3. PNC Park, Pittsburgh Pirates

After two decades under .500, the Pirates are finally playing some winning ball again. Good thing, because their park deserves as many games as possible.

 (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

2. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles

Still as beautiful as the day it opened in 1992, Camden Yards is headed toward becoming the next legendary American ballpark. 

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

1. AT&T Park, San Francisco Giants

Already 15 years and three names later, AT&T Park remains the best place to watch a Major League Baseball game. Between the amazing food, packed-out stands and the glistening bay in right field, San Francisco is lucky to call it home. 

(AP Photo)


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