Why Do Baseball Players Chew Tobacco?

Why Do Baseball Players Chew Tobacco?

If you’ve watched enough baseball on TV or had the pleasure of watching the sport up close and personal, you’ve probably noticed that even the best players in the sport chew tobacco. While the MLB has taken steps to reduce the usage of chewing tobacco in the sport, it’s still prevalent today.

But, can baseball players chew tobacco on the field still today? And why do baseball players chew tobacco in the first place? Today, we’ll answer these two questions and many others you may have about the epidemic of chewing tobacco in not just professional baseball, but even minor leagues and recreational leagues.

From enhancing focus and athletic performance to reducing stress and anxiety, there are quite a few legitimate reasons baseball players chew tobacco. But as you’ll discover below, the health consequences dramatically outweigh these perceived benefits. 

The good news? Grinds as a healthier alternative that offers all the upside and none of the downside. We’ll talk more about our chewing tobacco alternatives towards the end of this article. First - can baseball players chew tobacco on the field today still? 

Can Baseball Players Chew Tobacco on the Field?

Back in the 1900s, you’d have a hard time finding a baseball player that wasn’t chewing tobacco. This habit was widespread throughout leagues of all levels - from the majors to the minors, and even local recreational leagues in your town.

And as recently as 2015, it was found that more than 37% of players and coaches were still using some form of smokeless tobacco.

Fortunately, we’ve seen a shift. These days, dipping on the field is becoming less common. There are two reasons why: 

  1. Baseball players (and the world as a whole) have become more aware of what chewing tobacco does to their health and well-being in the long term.
  2. The MLB put a ban in place for the use of smokeless tobacco products (more specifically, chewing tobacco) back in 2016. This was put in place under the collective bargaining agreement between the MLB Players Association and the league.

This ban was a lot more than just protecting the players from themselves. It’s also to protect future generations that look up to these players. They’re seen as role models. And as such, the fine print prevents all MLB players from taking the field or entering the dugout with a can of dip visible in their uniforms. Similarly, the use of such products is prohibited during interviews.

Do Baseball Players Still Chew Tobacco Today?

We know what you’re thinking…if chewing tobacco is banned, why do I still see so many baseball players chewing tobacco on the field? Why do baseball players still chew tobacco today? Again, there are two points we want to make here.

First and foremost, the ban specifically prohibits new players from chewing tobacco on the field. Older players that have been grandfathered into the league are still allowed to chew. So - any players that had a day of major league service under their belt prior to 2016 are still free to throw in a chew mid-game without risk of punishment. As you can imagine, these players are far and few between - the ban has been in place for more than 6 years now. 

But wait - maybe you’ve seen a new MLB player with a huge dip in mid-game or during an interview. What gives? This leads us to the second point we want to make.

The fact of the matter is that the ban was not well received by the entire league. It was seen as an infringement on personal rights. Many players disagreed with the ban, and are willing to risk being caught breaking the rules and being hit with fines. And in looking at the pay stubs for some of these athletes, they can certainly stomach fines here and there. 

But what’s the point? Why do baseball players chew tobacco? There actually is some solid reasoning behind it…

Why Do Baseball Players Chew Tobacco?

If you asked different baseball players chewing tobacco why they do it, you’d probably get a range of different answers. 

Some say it’s tradition - and because it’s always been a part of the game, it’s only right. Others point to more legitimate reasons, like the increase in athletic performance it can lead to. It also may help calm nerves during high-pressure moments. 

Below, we’ll cover all the reasons why baseball players chew tobacco more in-depth - starting with tradition.


One reason why baseball players chew tobacco is that it has become a part of the game's culture and history. Chewing tobacco has been associated with baseball for over a century, and many players view it as a traditional part of the sport. 

Some players may feel a sense of connection to the past when they chew tobacco, and it can serve as a reminder of the game's rich history. But as with many traditions that have been uprooted in the past, this is yet another that needs to go. 

Improved Focus

Perhaps the most legitimate reason to chew tobacco is to improve focus and concentration on the field. Nicotine, the addictive substance found in tobacco, is a stimulant that can increase alertness and help players stay sharp during long games. As a result, some players may use tobacco to improve their hand-eye coordination, reaction time, and overall athletic performance. That buzz that comes with tobacco keeps players on their toes.

But while chewing tobacco may elevate athletic performance a marginal amount, is it really worth all the problems that come along with it? In our opinion, it’s an obvious nope. 

Decreased Stress & Anxiety

Whether you’re playing in the major league, in the minors, in college, or even in a local rec league, the sport comes with a lot of high-pressure situations. And these present a serious challenge for even the best athletes. And this is another reason players chew - to decrease the stress and anxiety associated with these high-pressure situations.

Chewing tobacco can produce a calming effect, which may be particularly useful for players who struggle with nerves or anxiety. And if a player already has a nicotine addiction, the absence of chew during games can really exacerbate these nerves.

However, as we’ve said throughout this article, the use of tobacco as a coping mechanism can have negative consequences over time. There must be a better way to cope with stress and anxiety, right? There is. But before we introduce you to it let’s talk about the final reason some athletes chew.


Finally, baseball players may turn to tobacco as a way to alleviate boredom during downtime between innings or during long road trips. The slow pace of the game can leave players with a lot of downtime, and some may use tobacco as a way to pass the time and stay entertained.

This is something that even current and past players have admitted played a role in their chewing addiction. If you’re out in the outfield for 3 hours, it’s hard to keep your mind from wandering - having that little buzz in the back of your head keeps you dialed in. This sort of goes back to helping improve focus on the field.

The Problem With Baseball Players Chewing Tobacco

While we love America’s national pastime as much as the next person, it’s time we had a serious conversation about the chewing tobacco problem baseball as a sport has developed. While the MLB has taken steps to reduce usage, it's still more prevalent than it should be.

What exactly is the problem, though? Well, where do we even start?!

The most obvious issue with a long-term dipping habit is the impact it has on your oral health. Yellow teeth and bad breath are just the beginning. These eventually give way to more serious complications, like gum disease, hairy tongue, cancer, and more.

But the effects of chewing aren’t limited to your mouth - they can take a toll on your throat, lungs, and stomach. Serious health risks aside, there are also links between nicotine and acne, nicotine and hair loss, And beyond the physical health risks of a chewing tobacco addiction, there are mental health problems that come with the habit.

And, the problem with baseball players chewing tobacco goes deeper than simply the individual in question’s health. Athletes are role models, especially at the professional level. And as long as these individuals maintain their stance on chewing tobacco, they are encouraging future generations to pick up the habit as well.

It’s time we put an end to the problem for good. Many players have switched to nicotine gum (or better yet, just regular gum) or sunflower seeds. But what if we told you there was an even better solution? There is - keep reading to uncover it… 

Introducing Grinds: A Safer Way to Improve Performance & Relieve Stress on the Field

Think about all the reasons why baseball players chew tobacco: to improve athletic performance, relieve stress & anxiety, manage boredom on the field, and stay in tune with tradition. 

And as it turns out, there is a way for baseball players (and anyone else, for that matter) to attain all these benefits with none of the health and societal consequences of chewing tobacco: our caffeine pouches.

Grinds nicotine & tobacco free chew is the best way to kick the habit for good. With caffeine instead of nicotine, you still get the benefits of increased energy and focus so you can perform your best without compromising your health and wellness. 

And if you’re currently struggling with nicotine addiction, the simulation of dipping with Grinds helps you fend off cravings and handle the chewing tobacco withdrawal symptoms with ease. You won’t feel as irritable or moody, and with the caffeine, feelings of fatigue will be a non-issue.

With so many incredible flavors to choose from, the only question is - which will you go with first? We’ve got classic chewing tobacco flavors like wintergreen, spearmint, and more. We’ve also got coffee-based flavors like mocha, espresso, and more. And, you can even choose more exciting, off-the-wall flavors like cinnamon whiskey, Irish creme, and more.

We’ve already found a home in MLB locker rooms around the country. Some of your favorite players on the San Francisco Giants use our products, and they’re not the only team either. Try it yourself and see what a difference it can make in your life!

Parting Thoughts on Why Baseball Players Chew Tobacco

With all that said, it’s time to bring our article on why baseball players chew tobacco to a close. We’ve answered questions like:

  • Why do baseball players chew tobacco?
  • Can baseball players chew tobacco?
  • Do baseball players still chew tobacco?
  • Why is this a problem?
  • What’s the solution?

While baseball players chewing tobacco is becoming less prevalent, it’s still a serious problem throughout leagues. While it may improve athletic performance to some degree while presenting a distraction from monotonous innings, there is a better way.

The only thing left to do now is to educate yourself on the best way to quit chewing. This is something our guide on how to quit dipping cold turkey can help you with. You can also learn how to get rid of nicotine in your system fast, what happens when you quit dipping, and more in our blog. 

We’re on a mission to help create a dip-free world - and with our dip alternatives, you can kick this habit to the curb once and for all!