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Brett Butler sides with Surgeon General, cuts out tobacco

BY ED GODFREY, Staff Writer, egodfrey@opubco.com Published: August 17, 2011
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Tobacco use has always been part of the culture of baseball and still is today, Butler said.

When he was using, Butler said he rarely dipped in the offseason. It was only when he put on the baseball uniform that he felt a need to take a dip.

Tobacco use is banned in baseball's minor leagues but not in the major leagues. Butler said that makes the tobacco ban difficult to enforce, especially at the Triple-A level where players often move back and forth from the major leagues.

“They go to the big leagues they can (use tobacco), then they go down and they tell them they can't,” he said. “I've got a guy 37-years-old, and you are going to tell him he can't dip.

“I know what they are trying to do. I understand what they are trying to do, but it's hard to enforce when you've got guys that have the ability to do it a the big league level and they come down here and they have been dipping their whole lives. It's kind of a catch-22.”

Players in the minor leagues will sneak around and use tobacco anyway, Butler said.

“I tell them what it's done to me, that it could have been a contributing factor, but a lot of times guys don't listen until it hits the house,” Butler said.

“Guys on this team know that I had throat cancer from dipping, and some guys still have done it. The bottom line is until it hits them directly, they really won't take inventory of it.”

Butler, 54, also has recovered from prostate cancer. Butler is in his third season as manager of the Aces, but his ultimate goal, just like his players, is to make the major leagues.

“That's why I'm still doing it,” he said.