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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Esquire: Baseball Is Losing Its Ugly: A Lament for Big League Chew

I’d rather have an after-picture of Bill Tuttle on the pouch instead of Matt Kemp and Cole Hamels.

Earlier this month, it was announced that, come June, Big League Chew bubble gum — invented in 1968 by former all-star pitcher Jim Bouton and Rob Nelson, when both were teammates with the Class A Portland Mavericks — will no longer feature uncouth cartoon characters on its pouches. They will be replaced with photos of actual major leaguers. This blows.

Not the change itself. It isn’t the first time the iconic illustrations of Georgia artist Bill Mayer were swapped out for images of pro players. A brief promotion in the late 1990s had Hall of Famers Juan Marichal, Billy Williams, and Brooks Robinson gracing the gum. What’s upsetting is the players chosen this time: Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels.

...But that’s one of the beauties of the national pastime: the unnecessariness of beauty. And that’s what’s always been so great about the drawings adorning Big League Chew: They embrace baseball’s brutishness. The butt chin, greasy long hair, kielbasa schnoz. This was intentional. “My characters were exaggerated, crusty, rough,” says Mayer, who’s also done work for IBM, DreamWorks, Levi’s, and even designed a series of U.S. stamps. “I spent a few years growing up in New York. I grew up with Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra. Scraggly, ballsy players.”

Bouton fell in love with the artwork at first sight. “They were funky, edgy,” he says. “They looked real. They weren’t Disney characters. And none of them used steroids.”

Kemp and Hamels are the opposite of crusty, scraggly, edgy. In fact, there are few bigger pretty boys in the game (after Jeter, of course).

Repoz Posted: March 23, 2013 at 08:12 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Jacob Posted: March 23, 2013 at 10:50 PM (#4395159)
So, who's are the "funky, edgy” guys that should grace the pouches?

(Besides, the old cartoon characters, I mean.)
   2. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 23, 2013 at 10:55 PM (#4395161)
Youkilis seems like a natural.
   3. Dan Posted: March 23, 2013 at 10:56 PM (#4395164)
Harper wouldn't be bad.
   4. Adam Starblind Posted: March 23, 2013 at 11:02 PM (#4395169)
Dickey
   5. Tripon Posted: March 23, 2013 at 11:02 PM (#4395170)
Joe Blanton is fugly. Ronald Belisario has a natural pock marked face.
   6. Adam Starblind Posted: March 23, 2013 at 11:08 PM (#4395172)
Heath Bell
   7. Leroy Kincaid Posted: March 23, 2013 at 11:15 PM (#4395176)
(White) Sammy Sosa
   8. Meatwad needs baseball Posted: March 23, 2013 at 11:20 PM (#4395177)
is Gary Gietti too far removed from the game?
   9. Barnaby Jones Posted: March 24, 2013 at 03:23 AM (#4395203)
   10. PASTE does not get put on waivers in August Posted: March 24, 2013 at 07:13 AM (#4395209)
Julian "Freddy" Tavarez is in a whole different category. We're not trying to scare away potential eight-year-old buyers here.
   11. bfan Posted: March 24, 2013 at 09:41 AM (#4395214)
Esquire is a pretty boy fashion magazine. I don't get my fashion news from SI, and I don't get my sports news from Esquire or Elle.

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