Let’s talk about spit

Spit grosses me out. Thankfully, I am not a spitter — not now nor as a softball player. I didn’t like it when the Catholic schoolboys made spitballs nor do I like it in public when someone “hocks a loogie.” (I am gagging while envisioning this spitting image.)

So the age-old question from us spit-haters is why? Why do baseball players have to spit?

Basketball players don’t spit. Football players might spit some, but they have to lie on the turf after they’re tackled, so they might be more careful about where they put their saliva. Ice hockey players don’t spit (they might but it freezes) and I don’t notice pro golfers spitting on the links.

Camels and alpacas spit. So do cobras. Babies spit up. But baseball players are none of those (well, some might argue …)

“Spit” is an appropriate word for a vulgar action and an absolute nasty habit. Maybe we could start an acronym for SPIT … Saliva Put In Turf.

Socially, spitting is one of the rudest and most disrespectful things you can do to another human and is considered a taboo in many parts of the world.

Ken says it’s out of nervous energy that baseball players spit. Some are spitting not saliva, but tobacco juice and sunflower seeds. Although he says he does, I have never seen Ken spit, though he must have plenty as a ballplayer.

By the way, Ken prefers the word expectorate.

Call it what you will sweetie – spittle, saliva, spit – I have to agree with John Payne from Simsbury, Connecticut, who wrote Ken a four-page letter about spitting. Yes, FOUR pages – on pretty blue stationary. His opinion was quite entertaining.

“There is too much spitting by all the players on all the teams,” wrote Mr. Payne.  (He was quite serious about the topic, too; he typed the letter in ALL CAPS.)

“I wonder if these players spit on the floor at home or in restaurants,” wrote Mr. Payne. “Do they do all this spitting when they go out with their wives or girlfriends?”

He thinks the Yankees superstars are the ones who spit the most. So I ran into the TV room to see for myself and to get Ken’s spit input as he watched the Yankees/A’s game. He suggested I count the number of times the players spit in an inning. Three spits later, I was out of there.

I couldn’t watch it any more than Mr. Payne, who said he is so offended by the ongoing spitting that he makes sure to eat dinner before he watches a baseball game on TV. It is hard for him to finish his meal while observing “this nasty, unsightly, unsanitary and unhealthy practice.”

He would like Ken and the other announcers to discuss this spitting problem with the camera people so they don’t show any spitting on air.

Ken said that’s a bit tricky. How are they supposed to know when someone is ready to spit? True.

There’s only one other solution then, according to Mr. Payne. He would like to request of the baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, to make a ruling against spitting during games. “Make an agreement … to help solve this disgusting practice.”

I’m with you on that one, Mr. Payne. Maybe this is the reason it’s so challenging for me to sit through nine innings. Can I blame it on the spitting?

Mr. Payne wrote that he has seen “players spit on their hands, rub the baseball, rub dirt on their hands, then put their hand back in their mouth. This cannot be very sanitary or healthy. My relatives, my friends and I … would love to be able to eat and enjoy our meal while we watch the Yankees on YES.”

I’m guessing Mr. Payne would be very upset if spitballs were still legal.


  1. dewyduster@yahoo.com

    Great article Mrs. Singy. I don’t know about baseball players, but when I’m nervous my mouth gets dry. I would want to conserve all the moisture within that I could!

    I think spitting starts out when players are young, imitating their heroes. By the time they reach the big time and are on TV, it is just a plain habit that is tough for them to break, like fingernail biting or lip chewing. A little self-discipline would overcome this habit. Maybe some famous therapist will start a “spit-quit” clinic and travel to each clubhouse, rehabbing habitual expectorators.

  2. annbooth2@verizon.net

    Hi Mrs Singy,
    First time I’ve responded to any blog, but I enjoy yours as much as I enjoy Ken’s commentary on YES and your feelings re spitting are totally in line with mine.
    I’ve been watching the Yankees play baseball since ’52 on WPIX and I’m sure Mickey Mantle spit, but I never remember the disgusting act being as overdone as it is now. Of course, we didn’t have the close-up cameras they do today.
    I, too, have wondered what they do at home. Have you noticed that they don’t spit as much when they chew gum as when they have those awful sunflower seeds. Why eat something you have to shell to taste?

    Anyway, keep your blogs coming. I just discovered them and please tell Ken he’s the best partner Michael has.


  3. ladylawyer61@twcny.rr.com

    I agree that this is a GREAT article. I also enjoy Mrs. Singy’s blog, as well as her husband’s banter with Michael Kay on YES. I too have noticed the spitting recently and think it may be occuring more frequently than it has in the past. Cannot quite figure out why, but it certainly detracts from my otherwise positive opinion of the Yankee players. I even asked my husband the other day to explain why the players spit and his answer – “that’s just the way it’s done.” Great point also made about what the players do at home. Somehow I doubt that this nasty habit is carried over off the field and is tolerated by one’s wife, girlfiend or Mother.

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