"When I first broke into the Dodger system," recalls Rex Barney, "I was with Montreal, just a kid, 18 years old, and we had a coach, an old guy named Barney De Forge, or something like that. This was during the war, and babies like myself were playing. I was sitting in the bullpen one night and De Forge said to me, 'Kid, you want to get to the major leagues?'
"I said, 'Sure, that's what it's all about.'
"He says, 'You don't chew tobacco, do you?'
"I said, 'No.'
"He said, 'Well, you'll never get there unless you chew tobacco.'
"In those days, if you had 25 players, 24 chewed tobacco. Very naive, I said, 'O.K.' I tried it. The only thing I remember is chomping down a couple of times and getting deathly ill. I was supposed to start the next night and I was still so sick I couldn't even leave the hotel. I said to myself, 'If that's what it takes to make the major leagues, I'll never make it.' "
These days the chewing situation is laxer, more pluralistic. Snuff dipping has always been around—Ruth did that too—but lately it has achieved a perhaps faddish popularity, helped along by Murcer, and Carlton Fisk, who, like Garrison, promotes snuff in TV commercials.
"You know what's good?" asks San Francisco Pitcher Dave Heaverlo. " Copenhagen dipped in Scotch. A real neat flavor."
A snuff-in-Scotch dipper cannot be accused of effeteness; still "a real neat flavor" can hardly be what a man like Nellie Fox had in mind.
Another relatively new baseball chew is sunflower seeds. Reggie Jackson keeps them in his pocket and chews them constantly at the park. "I started in college," he says. "The guys at Arizona State chewed them. They're good for nervousness and it's an easy way of getting salt."