Hey, remember Big League Chew? Kind of? Cool. Here’s an almost 8,000-word oral history of how it came into existence. Wait, come back! Look, we’re well aware that a lengthy oral history on Big League Chew suggests that we as a society are racing at an alarming clip toward Peak Oral History—after which we face a devastating oral history crash that will end with emaciated Grantland readers combing the desolate, sun-blasted landscape for scraps of transcriptions of interviews with the cast of Samurai Pizza Cats. But the Big League Chew story manages to earn its keep.
Fox Sports subsite Just A Bit Outside has the origin story of the ersatz chewing tobacco, a staple of Little Leaguers since its 1980 introduction, as told by the people behind it. As it turns out, Big League Chew was the brainchild of two frustrated former Major Leaguers (one of whom being none other than Jim Bouton, author of seminal baseball tell-all Ball Four) and owed its existence to a perfectly timed convergence of concept and chemistry. The full story involves Kurt Russell’s dad, the only independent team in baseball history, and a failed attempt at a Popeye-branded spinoff product, among other details considerably more interesting than might be expected from a dang oral history of Big League Chew.