English: Label from Spencer Brothers tobacco l...
English: Label from Spencer Brothers tobacco label, Martinsville, Henry County, Virginia, circa 1880 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Summer officially began on June 20th. What do you think about when you think of summer? Vacation, swimming, setting up a summer schedule for your family, longer days, beautiful sunsets, picnics, holidays, or maybe taking in a baseball game (majors, minors, or local league) might be part of your summer activities.

So why mention baseball? Well, it is considered the Great American Pastime, but also historically baseball players have influenced every generation since the mid to late 1800s. Young children have their heroes, even today you can hear adults talk about their baseball heroes, really too many to name. Having heroes is great, but sometimes we try too often to emulate everything about our heroes, both good and bad behaviors.

Professional baseball players over the years have used chewing tobacco. In fact when the rules of baseball were written in 1845 chewing tobacco use among players was already rampant. Its use apparently decreased in the 1950s as players switched to smoking cigarettes. In the 1970s when the federal government started providing health warnings about the health implications of smoking, chewing tobacco again became popular with professional baseball players.

Last year Major League Baseball (MLB) took a first step in limiting the use of “chew.” In November ESPN reported:

“Players have agreed not to carry tobacco packages and tins in their
back pockets when fans are permitted in the ballpark, or use tobacco
during pregame or postgame interviews, and at team functions. But
the restrictions fall short of the call by some advocates, including
members of Congress, who argued that a ban on chewing tobacco and dip
during games was needed to protect impressionable kids watching on TV.”

It was a start. Last week Josh Hamilton made headlines when he admitted that he is trying to “quit dipping”, that is chewing tobacco.  Why is this news? 31 year old Josh Hamilton is a professional baseball player. He is an outfielder with a batting average of .309 and 142 home runs to his credit. In 2010 he won the American league Most Valuable Player award. Additionally, Josh struggles with drugs and alcohol and documented his recovery in his autobiography Beyond Belief

Quitting any habit is hard. For example, many make New Year’s resolutions, but soon find that exercising every day, stepping away from fatty foods, living on a budget, stopping smoking, or quitting biting our fingernails just becomes too hard. Then we get mad at ourselves and we give up! Grandiose resolutions, particularly those publicly proclaimed, may intrinsically sabotage our dreams, resolutions and aspirations. Perhaps that is why Alcoholics Anonymous offers this advice “one day at a time.”  Don’t think about recovery forever, just walk through each day one day at a time. Take baby steps and before you know it your recovery program is working for you.

Here’s hoping that Josh Hamilton will be able to kick his “chew” habit one day at a time. It will be good for him and good for the kids who are watching.


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