Oral history of Big League Chew


In 1977, two baseball players sitting in the Portland Mavericks bullpen came up with the idea for a pouch of shredded chewing gum as an alternative to chewing tobacco.

Anna McDonald has the, er, oral history of Big League Chew:

Rob Nelson: Fellow pitchers in the bullpen were having dopey competitions that involved chewing and spitting tobacco for distance and accuracy. Jim Bouton asked me if I ever chewed tobacco, because we both looked at these guys with disgust and disdain, and I told Jim I had tried it once. It was maybe an inning or two later and I said to Jim, “I thought for a long time it would be cool to have shredded gum, so we could look as cool as these guys but not make ourselves sick.”

Jim Bouton: Rob was in the bullpen and he was sitting around, and he was talking about his idea for shredded bubble gum as a healthy alternative to chewing tobacco. I said, “I think that’s a great idea, Rob.” He said, “Yeah? Can you help me with it?” And I said, “Sure.”

Big League Chew: An Oral History (Fox Sports)