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Big League Stew

Matt Kemp’s image put on Big League Chew pouch

David Brown
Big League Stew

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"Big League Chew! Man-sized wads of great-tasting shredded bubble gum, stuffed into a giant, stay-fresh pouch!" — TV commercial, 1980s

Even though I'm among those who grew up with pouches of Big League Chew showing a snarling cartoon caricature of a ballplayer (he sort of looked 'roided up, to be honest), it's about time that real, live dudes appeared on America's beloved shredded chewing gum product.

And those dudes are ... Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies. Darren Rovell of ESPN says that Kemp's pack will debut in June:

"This was uncharted territory for us," said Rob Nelson, who invented the product as a chewing-tobacco alternative along with Jim Bouton when the two were teammates on an independent baseball team in 1977.

"But these guys epitomize what is good about the game of baseball and the time is right."

Kemp is a perfect choice — he looks like an archetypical ballplayer — though I wonder if Big League Chew's ad wizards drew up some snarling cartoon caricatures of him as well, just in case. Maybe that 'roided up look is just as well left in the past.

There's a charity component to this deal, Rovell notes, so Kemp's Kids (which works with the Boys and Girls Clubs) will get a cut. Of course, Hamels and his wife, Heidi Hamels, are big-time charitable as well.

Big League Chew, of course, is where Big League Stew gets its name. The story of its invention by Nelson and Bouton (of "Ball Four" fame) is fascinating. Also, it's fun gum. This is a fun blog. "Chew" rhymes with "Stew." It all makes sense. You're in the big leagues when (you read) Big League Stew! And so forth.

I just wish big leaguers (and minor leaguers, and high schoolers) would tear open a pouch of gum instead of tobacco. As Dr. Steve Brule says, "For your health!"

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