30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Bubble Gum Cards

Big League Chew and I go back.  How far back?  Way back.  As a Little Leaguers in the early to mid 80's, I purchased my fair share of foil pouches.  Its presence in the dugout was just as important as sunflower seeds, the giant Igloo cooler filled with water, our equipment, and the lineup card.  In fact, if I concentrate hard enough, I can still taste that imitation grape flavor.  That's pretty impressive since I don't think I've thrown a wad of the shredded gum into my mouth in nearly thirty-five years.

If I had to guess, I'd probably say the year was 1985 which was right around the time I was wrapping up my Little League career and getting myself ready for high school baseball.  It's kind of a shame, because the following year, the company inserted baseball cards into their pouches of gum.

They resemble the SSPC Baseball Immortals trading cards produced in the 80's, which bears resemblance to the 1975 Topps set on the front and the 1954 Bowman design on the back.

See for yourself:

1986 Big League Chew #1 to #6

At the time, the first six cards in the twelve card set featured the six MLB players atop the all-time home run list.

1984 SSPC Baseball Immortals #177
1980 SSPC Baseball Immortals #1
1984 SSPC Baseball Immortals #178
1984 SSPC Baseball Immortals #185

The words "Home Run Legends" replaced "Baseball Immortals" for this set.  And as far as I can tell... the border colors and photographs have been changed for most of the players in this set.

On the back Big League Chew uses different player summaries and also includes the year when the player hit their 500th home run in place of the trivia question.  It also says HALL OF FAMERS WHO HAVE HIT OVER 500 HOME RUNS at the top of the card above the bat and 1986 SERIES written inside of the bat.

However the most obvious difference on the back is the coloring.

Here's a look at the final six cards in the set:

1986 Big League Chew #7 to #12

This set must have been planned and printed sometime before the Summer of 1986, because Willie McCovey was also part of the 500 Home Run Club and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame that year.  

Reggie Jackson was the only other 500 Home Run Club member at the time, but he was still playing in 1986.  And if you're curious about the next slugger to join this exclusive club... it would be Mike Schmidt.  He'd hit #500 early in 1987.

Here's a closer look at the collage/checklist card:

According to Beckett, these cards were inserted into pouches of Big League Chew at a rate of one per specially marked pouchKids and collectors could also send in $2 with two coupons and receive a complete set through a mail-in offer.

I definitely remember seeing the Baseball Immortals cards back in the 80's, but these Big League Chew cards totally slipped past me.  Maybe by the time 1986 rolled around, I was more into spittin' seeds instead of dipping BLC.

What about you?

Did you play organized baseball?  If so, what kind of wad was sitting in your cheek?

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


  1. We didn't have that on the bench when I played. It was definitely just a park bench and not a dugout. My younger brothers, who are probably close to your age, had BLC but I don't ever remember hearing about cards being included.

  2. Yes I played and you know it was Big League Chew. Beautiful cards.

  3. I've had my fair share of Big League Chew (way before that set), had my share of Quench gum too, but in the dugout it was Levi Garrett, yes chewing tobacco even as a little leaguer.

    1. Just checked I have the Aaron, and the header/last card with Mathews and Aaron on it, but I guess I need to track down a Mathews.

  4. I've never seen those Big League Chew cards, probably because there are no Dodgers in the set. Interesting the similarity to the Baseball Immortals, must've been another SSPC production.

    I have no idea what kind of gum I was chewing when I was playing ball. It was probably on the sly because I can hear my mom saying I was going to choke. Bubble Yum was super popular at the time so could've been that.

    Also, I hate grape gum, and I can still taste it, too.

  5. Oooh, that checklist card is fantastic!

  6. So as luck would have it, I had a wad of Big League Chew in yesterday! My son got some in his Easter basket, and we too the dog for a walk and both had a wad of it. Original is the best, but I also like sour apple.

    Growing up playing baseball, we definitely had the buckets of double bubble, but I also liked Gatorade gum!

  7. I played in a school league and we didn't have anything like this. Though we did get soda after the games.

  8. One of my favourite baseball cards is a Topps base card that was in a wad of random cards a friend brought me back from a trip. It's got an oblong impression of a stick of gum on it. The pack must have been squashed and the gum pushed into the card. For me baseball cards and gum just naturally go together. If I'd ever played baseball I would have always had a mouthful of gum.

  9. I played for 11 years from little league minors through high school and senior babe Ruth and then again for three years in my late 20s. I remember carrying sticks of gum from topps packs in my little league pocket and chewing that. Later on, if it weren't sunflower seeds, we were chewing dubble bubble.

  10. Never played ball outside the neighborhood backstop near my house. We had BLC though. That taste doesn't fade.

    I just picked up the card set this year through a few trades. Goes well with the 1980 Immortals set, which I'm still working on. Julie just sent me a couple more this week. Those are great too - some weird pictures, but overall they're cool. They do have some variations that don't say "1st printing" on the back. Not documented, it's going to be interesting to see how many there actually are.

  11. Those are new to me! The front of the checklist is fantastic!

  12. runforekelloggs - yeah... my blc pouches never contained cards. but it looks like they did it at least a couple of times (possibly more).

    peter k steinberg - nice. club blc

    johnnys trading spot - ohh. i forgot about quench gum. it had a very unique flavor. loved grabbing a few whenever i went to my local 7-11. chewing tobacco? you were one of the cool kids. i never used it, but my brother did for years.

    night owl - imitation grape is right up there with imitation cherry as my least favorite flavors. watermelon? that's another story. and you're probably right about sspc producing these. there are way too many similarities.

    the angels in order - i agree. i tried searching for a lithograph online to see if i could figure out the artiest, but i came up short

    the lost collector - i remember the bucket of gum as well... but i think they had that in the snack shack at the field we played at. i probably wouldn't buy original flavored blc, but if i saw sour apple i might give it a shot.

    elliptical man - soda after the game? i remember these flavored waters in a plastic barrel things and capri sun. probably hi-c juice boxes too. but never soda. you were lucky.

    jongudmund - agree 100% gum and cards are like cherry pie and ice cream

    gcrl - i remember saving the gum from my packs of topps cards, but i don't remember chewing it very often. and i definitely made the transition to seeds as i got older. even when we played softball in our 20's, we chewed on seeds.

    gca - i'm building the 1980 immortals set too. i'll probably try to track some down on sportlots when i find some time to shop online. as for the 1st printing... i noticed that. i'm not going to be picky. i just want a complete set. already have it in a binder with a cover ready to go.

    matt - yeah... it's really cool. i would've thought someone would have turned it into a lithograph, but i couldn't find the image online.

  13. I definitely remember Big League Chew from my childhood, but I don't remember the packages coming with cards. As far as what food/snacks were around the dugout during my Little League days, orange slices were a big thing.

  14. I totally did not know those existed. Cool! Wish they would do something like that again!!

  15. When I used to coach Little League Baseball in Denver, I remember all the kids with their bags of Big League Chew. I would have to remind them to take them out of their back pockets when they'd go up to bat. I don't remember the cards, though.

  16. gregory - nice call on the orange slices. they were definitely part of the team mom's arsenal. i should know... my mom was one of them.

    sumomenkoman - i would definitely buy some blc if they did!

    comatoad - i don't remember the cards either. luckily someone wrote about them on their blog. can't remember where i saw it though.