"Seeds came onto the scene about 1969, 1970," says Dalrymple. " Oakland started using seeds, and all of a sudden they started showing up all over the place." Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver is a big seed man, as is Boog Powell. Former White Sox Outfielder Buddy Bradford tells how seeds are chewed:
"What you do is store 'em in the side of your mouth, then pull one seed out with your tongue, chew it, spit the shell out, then take another one, and so on. It's hard to eat them when you're trying to hit. The only time you can eat 'em is when you're in the dugout or the outfield."
The trouble with seeds is that the shells tend to wind up concave side down on clubhouse floors and stick there with a suction so broom-resistant that some clubhouse men refuse to dispense them.
Seeds bother traditionalists, on principle. "We had an onslaught of those things the last few years," says Bridges. "Most of the dugouts looked like bird cages. I had a couple of players that I had to watch pretty carefully—I was afraid they were going to start moulting."
There are miscellaneous chewers. Champ Summers of the Reds chews licorice, as did Hank Greenberg. "Hank used to spit the licorice in his glove to firm it up," says Montreal President John McHale, who played with Greenberg on the Tigers. "Once he gave me some. I got so sick I can't imagine ever trying tobacco." (The only front-office figure associated with chewing tobacco is Atlanta owner Ted Turner.)
John Bateman used to mix tobacco and licorice sticks when he caught for Houston. The late Danny Frisella occasionally chewed tar. Bridges used to change pace by chewing cigars. "I had my trips measured by cigars," he says. "From Cincinnati to Long Beach was 40 cigars." And, of course, there was Toothpick Sam Jones, who was always working on a toothpick when he pitched. "Chewing or keeping the mouth busy is normal," he once explained. "A toothpick does not stain your teeth, does not pull out fillings or cause cavities. It's a substitute for overeating. And you can still get a supply free in restaurants. It may not be approved at society events, but I say it's healthy."
But the major alternative to tobacco is gum. Topps furnishes 250,000 boxes of Bazooka free to big league clubhouses annually. Some observers, including the possibly biased Bridges, see tobacco in resurgence, but gum is now the leading chew. For one thing, black and Latin players, who almost all eschew tobacco, prefer gum. Among the exceptions are Cesar Geronimo, Dan Driessen, Pedro Borbon, Rod Carew, Luis Tiant, Ben Oglivie and Gary Matthews, whose spitting last year was praised by authority Murcer: "The kid's got length and strength."
Billy Williams was a chewer for a while in the minors but, "I gave it up when I was in AA ball. It was all part of the tough, dirty image of those days—chewing, spitting, baggy uniforms. It's strong stuff. It stays on your breath. I found decay in my teeth, that's why I quit. I don't know why black guys don't chew. Maybe Dock Ellis does. He'll try anything."
Dick Allen has been doing a little pre-game Red Man lately as an aid to quitting cigarettes, but he says, "I can't really handle it. I wouldn't want my name associated with it, actually, because of the kids." When Ed Herrmann was with the White Sox, he succeeded in converting one black player, Carlos May. "We had to start him out with one leaf," says Herrmann, who adds, "I've seen some umpires chew, but I've never run into a girl chewer."
Joe Morgan feels not at all self-conscious about being a Juicy Fruit chewer, and Dave Nelson of the Royals says fastidiously. "I chew nothing but gum. I remember watching Rocky Bridges play at old Wrigley Field in L.A. He had juice all over his shirt. It made me sort of sick. Most of the Texas Rangers chew tobacco. They sit in the dugout and see who can make the biggest puddle. It's sickening."