Mayor Marty Walsh and Curt Schilling, the bloody-sock-sporting hero of the 2004 World Series, teamed up with public health officials and advocates, hoping to strike out smokeless tobacco in Fenway Park and other sports venues.
Walsh planned to pitch an ordinance with the City Council on Monday, hoping to improve the quality of our national pastime and toss out the link between a lip full of spit tobacco and the old ball game.
"Our baseball parks are places for creating healthy futures, and this ordinance is about doing the right thing as a community for our young people," Walsh said in a press release. "The consequences of smokeless tobacco are real, and we must do all that we can to set an example. I look forward to working with the City Council to keep Boston on the leading edge in creating healthy communities for our young people."
Walsh and Schilling spoke to media Wednesday at Moakley Field in South Boston about the proposed ordinance, which takes aim at banning chewing tobacco in professional, collegiate, high school or organized amateur sporting events, including baseball, softball, football, basketball, hockey, track and field, field hockey, lacrosse and soccer and any other event involving a game or other athletic competition organized by a league or association.
Under Walsh's rules, violators could face a $250 fine.
For years, it seems baseball and tobacco have gone hand-in-hand. Fans of the game know it's not uncommon to see players spitting out brown stuff on the field or stepping up to the plate with a big wad in their cheeks.
When it comes to the Sox, an informal survey in 2013 by The Boston Globe found 21 of 58 Sox players used smokeless tobacco products, mostly "snuff" tucked in next to their gums. Many of them told The Globe there was something about baseball that made them want to chew, and said they didn't even dip in the off-season.
Schilling, the former Sox pitcher and long-time chewing tobacco user, announced in 2014 he had been diagnosed with mouth cancer, a malady he believes his habit caused.
"I have seen cancer take the lives of peopel very important to me like my father, a lifelong smoker, and I have endured the insufferable agony of radiation to the head/neck," he said in a statement. "If this law stops just one child from starting, it's worth the price."
Chewing tobacco and snuff contain 28 cancer-causing agents, according to the National Cancer Institute, and the U.S. National Toxicology Program has established smokeless tobacco as a "known human carcinogen."
Reaction online was mixed:
Boston mayor wants ban on chew- ing tobacco at ballparks. I smoke, but there's validity in not wanting to dodge tobacco spit when walking.— Jack Gengler (@jdong32) August 5, 2015
I agree with Mayor Walsh 100% that tobacco should be banned in baseball.— Oliver Martel (@O_Money35) August 5, 2015
The mayor of Boston is trying to ban chew in the stadium for all player coaches and fans. That's dumb as hell— TJ Jones⚾ (@jonesyboy6) August 5, 2015
@marty_walsh So the FEW people who chew are a major problem in Boston?Don't address REAL issues like infrastructure and homeless.MoronMayor— John Bell (@firstboozoever) August 5, 2015
Oh and Marty Walsh banning dip at Fenway and all ballparks in Boston is insane and un-American, sack up dude.— K Leddy (@kleddy_) August 5, 2015