Monday, July 17, 2006

And Now, A Word From My Friend Ben

Celery Chaw
By Benjamin Squires, Guest contributor

Do parents worry about their Major League Baseball playing sons choking on their smokeless tobacco?

Let me explain why I’m wondering. My son, Samuel, is two-years old, and we were outside the other day learning the handle of the bat from the head, trying to hit a foam ball off the tee. Meanwhile, I realized that Samuel had some chaw between his cheek and gum.

Of course, in his case, the chaw was celery. Before coming out to the backyard ballyard, Samuel had gotten very excited about eating small pieces of celery that his Mama was cutting up for a pasta salad. He was jumping up and down, asking for more, as if she was handing out Teddy Grahams.
After telling Samuel that he could only have "one more piece" (I know, you’re thinking what a strange conversation where you have to tell your toddler that he can only have one more bite of celery), we headed outside to play baseball.
That’s when I noticed the chaw. I worried right there that Samuel might choke as I tried to tell him to choke up on the bat. I flashed forward 18 years and imagined Squires coming out of the dugout, headed for his position as shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, a stalk of celery disappearing into his mouth as he runs. When the first pitch is thrown, all the crowd can see is that telltale lump in the cheek, a common enough sight on the diamond.
However, I’ll know that Samuel’s got a cheek of chewed up celery and has no need to spit. Then I’ll worry about him choking as he dives for a bouncer between second and third.
Benjamin lives in Manitowoc, WI, listening to the Cubs on WGN AM-720 while giving Samuel his evening bath. He writes the music review site called Music Spectrum (

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