There’s no denying that sunflower seed eating in baseball is a solid tradition. Maybe it’s the slow pace of the game, the nervous energy in the dugout, or a learned behavior from watching baseball players over the decades eat sunflower seeds. Whatever it is, it’s a tradition we embrace.
In honor of our Opening Day Giveaway (Get a year’s supply of seeds!), we’re bringing you a handful of fun facts about baseball’s love affair with sunflower seeds.
The story goes that baseball players were chewing sunflower seeds back in the 1950s, but it was Reggie Jackson who made it popular in 1968.
Era of Birdseed
By 1980, sunflower seed eating and hull spitting had become so popular that grounds crews were complaining. Claude Osteen, St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach at the time, called it the “era of birdseed.”
MLB Says, ‘No More Chew’
In 2011, it was decided by Major League Baseball and the players’ union that baseball players who chewed tobacco would be more discreet about it. As a result, even more baseball players took up the sunflower seed habit. A much healthier habit at that.
Why Isn’t Everyone Eating Seeds?
It’s estimated that 70% of Major League Baseball players chew gum or eat sunflower seeds during the game. (We’d like to know what the other 30% is waiting for!)
In 1995, the first case of Sunflower Seed Finger (SSF) was reported in the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society newsletter. Apparently, a Philadelphia Phillie pitcher kept sunflower seeds in his pocket. In between pitches, he would dig in his pocket for a seed, which resulted in a finger injury.
Only 12 Cases?
According to Cleveland.com, the Cleveland Indians go through 12 cases of sunflower seeds in a season. Maybe the Indians should consider entering our contest!
If you’d like to enter the Chinook Seedery Opening Day Giveaway, click here before April 6th! We’re giving away a year’s supply to one lucky winner and a variety pack to five winners.