Smokeless tobacco has been as much a part of the game of baseball as anything else.
It's a tradition. It's an addiction. It's a bad habit.
It's also no longer allowed around Major League Baseball. MLB doesn't allow chewing tobacco to be used around fans, but many players just take the precaution of keeping their dangerous habit better concealed than they did before the rule was enforced.
Although you can't get it in Australia, it's still been a part of the game down under for as long as it has overseas. It's something that Brisbane Bandits manager Kevin Jordan is a strong advocate against, after learning from personal just experience what damage it can do.
"See that?" Jordan said at Phillies camp in June as he pulled out his lower lip to reveal a lump on his bottom gum. "I chewed. I show this to my players. I chewed for eight years.
"I didn't mean to show you in my mouth. I do it to show players. I actually had this done two years ago. I did it for eight years so I'm very anti-tobacco."
The hitting coach of the GCL Phillies knows firsthand how the habit can start small and grow into something much bigger.
"I did it just starting out fooling around, playing video games in junior college and I'm like, 'Hey,' because all my buddies dipped, 'Let me try one,'" Jordan said. "I didn't like it.
"I tried another one. It's amazing how you progress in your level of doing it. You start off just fooling around sometimes doing it. Then you get to a point where you're like, 'Okay I'm going to try it at the field,' because you do a lot of running, so I got up enough nerve to try it during stretching. Then a couple days went by and then the next thing you know you're trying one for [batting practice] and then infield/outfield and then you work up enough nerve to try it in the game.
"Then if you have a little success, then the next thing you know, you can't go without it. It's terrible. It's super addictive obviously."
The former Philadelphia Phillies infielder ended his stint with smokeless tobacco in 1995. His wife aided him in the process because she thought it was "nasty". Jordan said that she didn't enjoy sitting next to someone who had a dip in all the time, like he did.
"I was a dipper," he said. "I was a full-fledged dipper. I dipped in the morning, noon and night. I had to have a dip in. And I loved it. Our trainer in Philadelphia talked to me, Jeff Cooper, he talked a lot about it because he was on the anti-smokeless tobacco committee and we talked about it. He suggested I try a patch. So I actually did the patch and I quit in December.
"I'm like a damn junkie. I quit December 15, 1995 and my son was born on that same day two years later. It wasn't a coincidence. I don't think so. I think that things happen."
At spring training, members of the anti-smokeless tobacco committee often come in to various camps to talk to young players about the dangers of chewing, spitting and dipping. One of the most dedicated members of the committee was Bill Tuttle, a former major league outfielder who lost his life to oral cancer because of his bad habit.
"When I was in the big leagues they had Bill Tuttle come in," Jordan said. "He's passed away but he was a guy who played and he had half his jaw taken out. Joe Garagiola, Sr. used to come when I was a player. It's funny because in baseball I remember when Bill Tuttle would come.
"Guys are young and strong and confident, I don't want to say arrogant, and he would talk and tell about how he had his jaw taken out and all these things and guys are sitting there listening and then as soon as the meeting was over, guys are firing dips in. It's almost like it's just one of those things where, 'It won't happen to me,' type of thing."
Though the attitude of the young players often reflects a sense of invincibility, the effects of tobacco on one young player in the Florida State League this season did take a toll on a few of his teammates.
"Yes, actually," one anonymous minor league dipper said of the influence that people can have when talking to teams on the topic. "Funny enough you should say that, because there's a guy that had a partial part of his tongue cut out about two months ago and there have been about three or four of my teammates that have quit because of that."
The player who commented was not one of the members of his team who quit.
"It's not hard at all," he said of quitting. "I've done it multiple times."
While stopping momentarily, only to go back to the habit again might not actually be considered quitting, it is something easier said than done. Brisbane's skipper knows that quitting isn't as easy as some young players seem to think it is.
"It's hard," Jordan said. "I did the patch and even when I came back to spring training I did a fake chewing tobacco for about two months, just because I was so used to putting a dip in. That first season I think I chewed gum a lot; I think I ate a lot of sunflower seeds.
"You get used to having something in your mouth. It's not just as easy as, 'Hey, just go ahead and quit." I think one of the reasons probably in baseball we have such a history of doing it is because we do this every day. So you get used to having a dip in every day for [batting practice], for infield/outfield, for taking grounders, for hitting in the cage, for stretching.
"You're used to having a dip in every day and because there's so much superstition involved in sports and in performance jobs that, 'I can't hit unless I have a dip in. I'm not going to get any hits today,' or, 'I'm not going to get anyone out if I pitch today without a dip in.' It's crazy how much superstition and chewing tobacco go hand in hand."
Jordan tries to use his experiences to help all of his players understand how dangerous and addictive chewing tobacco really is. He's not sure that what he says has an effect on them, but that won't stop him from trying.
"I talk to my guys about it, in-depth about it," he said. "I understand what a younger person goes through where they don't worry about it. You know, 'Hell if this guy's in his 40s and I'm 19 then I've got time. I can quit. He did it eight years and I've only been doing it six. So I'll just quit in two years.' It doesn't work that way."
Many baseball players often have trouble believing that they are actually addicted.
"I go back to it because I enjoy it," the player who shall remain nameless said. "When I can't get it, I don't need it."
For Jordan, this kind of attitude rings very true and sounds incredibly familiar.
"You know why they think they're not addicted?" Jordan said. "Because, 'Oh I can quit when I want because I'm strong enough,' or, 'I only dip during the season,' or, 'I only dip during,' and there are always excuses.
"There are times I'm thinking, okay you only dip during the season and then you go to spring training in February and you go home in October, so you only dip during the season, so what's that? Eight months out of the year? So if you make the postseason that's another month.
"But wait a minute, what if you go to winter ball? 'Only during the season.' The longer you play baseball, the longer your season gets because a lot of times you're playing winter ball and you're playing instructional and you're out on the baseball field nine months a year and sometimes longer."
Jordan considers himself lucky only having suffered a receding gum line after dipping for several years. He continues to encourage players to stay away from tobacco and tries to get his message across to anyone willing to listen.
"They basically took, off the roof of my mouth they took the skin, and sewed it in so my gums didn't recede anymore," he said. "I hadn't dipped in years, but just so in the future my gums won't recede anymore.
"Obviously, just forget just the mouth problems that people get, you can get tooth problems and gum problems. There's so much stuff that goes negatively with chewing tobacco that it's definitely something not even to fool around with and start."