By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
December 26, 2012
Baseball fans who tuned in to sports radio earlier this month heard Josh Hamilton blame his poor performance during the last part of the Texas Rangers’ season on quitting chewing tobacco. While the team’s president, Nolan Ryan, criticized Hamilton’s choice to quit mid-season, many offered praise and encouragement for the player’s decision to give up the dangerous substance and called for Major League Baseball to do even more to curb its use.
“This last season was the first time Major League Baseball set limits on smokeless tobacco, prohibiting players to use it when fans are present, and we’re glad to see the rules and the ongoing campaign against chewing tobacco taking effect and saving lives,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Even if the stress associated with breaking free from the addiction negatively effected Hamilton’s play, I’m sure he’s still glad he quit. The best day to quit tobacco is today.”
Under the smokeless tobacco restrictions announced by MLB just over a year ago, players may no longer carry a tobacco tin or package in their uniforms at games or any time that fans are in the park. Nor may they use it during televised interviews, team sponsored appearances or events that include fans.
On Dec. 21, Hamilton, who is now part of the Los Angeles Angels, told the Dan Patrick radio show that he knew quitting chewing tobacco, especially the mental aspect, had caused him some struggles on the field.
“I’ve been chewing for almost 11 or 12 years but I knew I needed to do it (quit) during the season, because if I could do it during the season around guys doing it all the time I knew I would be OK,” he said.
While Ryan told the media Hamilton should have waited until the offseason to quit, health advocates and many others said the player should be congratulated.
“When it comes to quitting his tobacco use, no time is better than the present,” wrote Rick Suter in the Bleacher Report. “Regardless of the business, there are no championships, Triple Crowns or MVP votes that can amount to a person’s health, and that should be the only focus.”
The Rev. Creech agreed and said the year-old restrictions — although not the complete ban requested by faith and healthcare leaders via the Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign — were a step in the right direction and one that should be supported by baseball management, especially when players decide to quit.