In the 1980s, while state dental director for the Wisconsin Division of Health, Rhys B. Jones, DDS, MS, became concerned about the increasing use of spit tobacco—and the ads that employed major league baseball players to promote spit-tobacco products. Jones responded with a one-man research project on the link between professional baseball and spit tobacco use.
Starting in 1986, he monitored the telecast of the fourth game of the World Series for pictures that showed spit tobacco use or products. Stopwatch in hand, he timed the length of all shots of spitting players and coaches as well as glimpses of spit tobacco packages sticking out of uniform pockets or lying on a dugout bench. Why the fourth game? Because there might not be a fifth game, Jones says. (The World Series winner is the team that takes four out of seven games.)
Jones, who was president of the American Association of Public Health Dentistry in 1995, continued his annual World Series count after moving to Iowa in the 1990s for a new dental position. At the time of the posting of this report in 2006, he was director of the St. Luke's Dental Health Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Jones got his highest count of spit tobacco use the first year, 1986. However, as the tally below shows, there was no steady-line decline after that. The count went up and down. In 1996, the first year of RWJF funding, Jones counted 2.3 minutes of spit tobacco use, the lowest up to that point—a fact that encouraged both Oral Health America and RWJF. However, the next year the count was up—to 10.6 minutes.
Nevertheless, Oral Health America took comfort in the fact—and issued press releases noting that generally Jones's World Series count was down after NSTEP's start. Indeed, for three straight years, it was zero.
Jones served as a consultant to NSTEP and at one point was on the Oral Health America board. Although his World Series study was not officially part of NSTEP, RWJF supported four years of the count—with $500 in 1999 and $3,000 annually 2000–02. Jones ceased monitoring the World Series after 2003.
Perceptible On-Camera Spit Tobacco Use in a World Series Game
As Reported by Rhys B. Jones, DDS, MS
1986 Mets vs. Red Sox – 23.9 minutes
1987 Cardinals vs. Twins – 11.8 minutes
1988 Dodgers vs. A's – 3.8 minutes
1989 Giants vs. A's – 7.7 minutes
1990 Reds vs. A's – 7.3 minutes
1991 Braves vs. Twins – 9.3 minutes
1992 Braves vs. Bluejays – 3.5 minutes
1993 Phillies vs. Bluejays – 20.8 minutes
1994 (There was no World Series because of a players' strike.)
1995 Braves vs. Indians – 8.6 minutes
1996 Braves vs. Yankees – 2.3 minutes
1997 Marlins vs. Indians – 10.6 minutes
1998 Padres vs. Yankees – 2.5 minutes
1999 Braves vs. Yankees – 0 minutes
2000 Mets vs. Yankees – 0 minutes
2001 Diamondbacks vs. Yankees – 0 minutes
2002 Giants vs. Angels – 5.1 minutes
2003 Marlins vs. Yankees – 14 seconds
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