rounding second base once and nearly choked to death when part of one got
caught in my throat," says Houston's Craig Reynolds. "I set a record
for the slowest run from second to third, and I haven't eaten one
"The salt rubs
on the inside of your cheek and kind of irritates it," cautions Bump Wills
of the Rangers, who does tobacco on the field, seeds off. Most in-fielders find
seeds a hindrance in their work. The Yankees' Bob Watson, for instance, is a
great seed man in the dugout and clubhouse, but he doesn't want shells in the
dirt around first base, where the low throws bounce. But Baltimore First
Baseman Eddie Murray will reach for his seeds anytime. "You worry about
Murray sometimes," says teammate Tim Stoddard. "He'll have his hand in
his pocket, getting a sunflower seed, when a line drive is going out."
To the advanced
user, handling line drives and seeds at the same time is just a matter of
practice, practice, practice. Tobacco chewing—the expectorational acrobatics
aside—requires mostly a strong stomach and a liking for stained clothes, but
seed chewing demands mastery of a complex technique.
pick them out of their pocket and eat them one at a time," sniffs Seattle
Pitcher Glenn Abbott. "I think they're too uncoordinated to shuck and eat a
seed and still keep the others on the sides of their mouths."
with one at a time," says the Dodgers' Terry Forster. "Then I went to a
handful and then a bag. Oh, yeah, I put in 50 to 60 at a time. Never touch them
once I get a gob in my mouth. I can eat four or five bags in nothing
talented," says Ranger Manager Pat Corrales, "you keep the uneaten ones
on one side of your mouth, chew the meat in the center of your mouth and, if
there is no place to spit the shells, put them on the other side. Now that's an
"What I like
to do after cracking the shells is spit them at guys who are not looking,"
says Wills, "because the shells stick. Sometimes there'll be 10 or 12 of
them hanging on the back of a guy's uniform and he won't know it."
Elrod Hendricks claims he saw an Oriole put some seeds into his mouth when he
was already chewing a mixture of tobacco and gum. "I was trying to figure
out how that tasted," muses Hendricks. "Chewing tobacco and gum is
enough of a chore. To eat something, too.... If they're able to do this, they
should be able to do anything."
But Jackson is
"the master," according to Terry Forster. "He can put a handful in
his mouth, pop them, spit out the shucks and go right on playing. Reggie keeps
his in his pants pocket, but if he slides he gets a lot of dirt mixed in with
them." Forster theorizes that Reggie separates the grit from the seeds by
shaking the seeds around in his hand before going to his mouth with them.
But why hear
testimony from a student of the master when Jackson himself is perfectly
willing to offer the most articulate explication of seed chewing?