LARNED — Spit. Spit. Spit! I’m talkin’ baseball here! Go to a baseball game and everybody’s spitting. From the major leagues to the local little league diamond, the first thing they learn is how to spit. It’s more common than “three strikes and you’re out!”
Kids learn to spit before they can throw a curve ball! Chewing tobacco? Naw, that’s mostly long gone. Now it’s sunflower seeds, chewing gum and … well … just spit! Check out the coaches. They’re spitting up a veritable drought breaker. Coaches show the art of spitting to kids as young as six, as soon as they are able to drag a bat up to home plate for a little T-Ball! Why wouldn’t they spit? Even their Mom’s are in the stands spittin’ out a veritable stream of sunflower seeds.
Mom is spitting. So did Babe Ruth, Mel Otte and George Brett. It is so common it must be one of the first-taught fundamentals of baseball. “Keep your eye on the ball, throw strikes and “don’t spit into the wind.” All basic fundamentals for being successful in baseball!
So why is this spitting thing peculiar to baseball? Do you see players and coaches spitting away during a basketball game? Does Bill Self keep a shiny brass spittoon next to him on the bench at Allen Fieldhouse? How about that guy from Duke with the funny name, Kryszyskysksieikc, or something like that? Is he spitting it up in Cameron Indoor Stadium? (By the way, is there a Cameron OUTDOOR stadium?) If you answered no to these questions, get in line for your free spittoon!
Even football doesn’t place spit down on the gridiron. They reserve that space for blood and guts and all of that football stuff. A little sidebar here. I did have a quarterback in high school that would blow his nose onto his hand and then wipe it on his center’s butt before taking the snap, but then, that’s another story for another time. We’re talking spitting here.
I guess I understand this spitting thing back in the days of grass fields and chewing tobacco. But mostly, both of those things are in the past. They play a lot of these games on artificial grass so I am wondering, just who is cleaning up all of those messes? Can you imagine what it must be like around the dugout at the end of those games?
As I’ve studied this phenomenon, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of difference in spitters. Some have style and are pretty neat about it. Others are sloppy and look like they are an old dump truck getting rid of a load. Some coaches spit only when their pitcher is in trouble and others spit before every pitch. Some are really accurate and can hit a beetle on the ground from five foot away. Whether or not the beetle dies from it depends on the content of the spit. Chewing tobacco will get them every time! Some spit on the ground and some spit into the dugout and others, the more discreet, spit into a can or spittoon. I like them best.
It must be something about summer that brings out all of this spitting. You don’t see it at basketball in the winter. You don’t see it at a football game and it is non-existent on the ice at a hockey match. Volleyball? ditto.
So, all of you Mommas out there, are you sure you want your kid to be a baseball player? Do you remember that country song that goes, “Mommas don’t let your children grow up to be cowboys”?
Mommas, don’t let your children grow up to be baseball players!
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned