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The Historical Intertwine of Baseball and Smoking Cigars

The Historical Intertwine of Baseball and Smoking Cigars

Are you a baseball fan who just so happens to love cigars, too? Well, did you know that baseball and cigars have surprisingly interconnected histories, each reflecting broader social and cultural trends? If you didn’t, this overview will show how both baseball and cigars have rich histories that reflect broader cultural trends and changes. Both remain deeply ingrained in the fabric of American culture, despite the evolving attitudes and regulations concerning tobacco use.

Baseball: A Brief History

Early Beginnings:

  • Baseball's origins are somewhat disputed, but it evolved from older bat-and-ball games like cricket and rounders. It became distinctly American by the mid-19th Century.
  • The first recorded baseball game with codified rules was played in 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey, between the New York Nine and the Knickerbockers.

Professional Era:

  • The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, established in 1871, is considered the first professional baseball league.
  • The National League (NL) was founded in 1876, followed by the American League (AL) in 1901. The World Series, which pits the champions of the NL and AL against each other, started in 1903.

Integration and Expansion:

  • Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 by joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, marking a significant step in baseball’s and America's civil rights journey.
  • Baseball expanded from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West, growing from 16 to 30 teams from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Cigars: A Brief History


  • The history of cigars dates back to the ancient Mayans (10th century), with the first recorded cigar use around 600 AD.
  • Christopher Columbus is credited with introducing tobacco to Europe after his crew observed indigenous peoples in the Caribbean smoking rolled tobacco leaves.


  • Cigar production was revolutionized by the introduction of mechanization in the late 19th Century.
  • Tampa, Florida, became known as "Cigar City" by the early 20th Century due to its booming cigar industry, largely fueled by Cuban immigrants.

Modern Era:

  • Cigars saw a significant decline in popularity after World War II due to rising cigarette use but regained popularity in the 1990s.
  • Today, cigars are enjoyed worldwide, with a strong culture of cigar aficionados and luxury branding.

Intersection of Baseball and Cigars

Early Days of Baseball (19th Century)

Again, baseball emerged as a popular pastime in the United States in the mid-19th Century. By the 1860s, it was already referred to as "America's pastime”, paralleling the rise in cigar consumption as cigars became a symbol of leisure and status.

During this period, cigar smoking was common among players and spectators alike, with cigars often seen at ball games. Early baseball players often smoked cigars, both as part of their lifestyle and during games. Smoking was common in baseball dugouts and clubhouses. Prominent figures in baseball, like players and managers, were frequently depicted in photographs with a cigar in hand, a testament to the cigar's status symbol.

Not only that, but cigars were also often associated with leisure, and were even considered a symbol of success and status. The cigar industry was intertwined with social clubs, gentlemen's gatherings, and other aspects of the upper class.

Baseball’s Golden Age (1900s-1920s)

The early 20th Century, often considered the "Golden Age" of baseball, saw legends like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. This era also witnessed the flourishing of the cigar industry in the United States, fueled by mass production and the influx of Cuban immigrants skilled in the art of cigar-making. The U.S. had a robust cigar manufacturing industry by this point, with key centers in places like Tampa, Florida, and Connecticut.

Baseball games were social events where men would smoke cigars, and the imagery of cigar-smoking baseball players became iconic. Cigar companies capitalized on baseball's popularity by featuring players in advertisements and issuing baseball-themed cigar bands and boxes. Early baseball trading cards were often included in cigar boxes. These cards, featuring players' images, became collectible items and an important marketing tool.

Decline of Public Smoking (1930s-1950s)

The 1930s brought the Great Depression, impacting discretionary spending on luxuries like cigars. Meanwhile, baseball continued to thrive, becoming more organized and regulated. However, public attitudes towards smoking began to shift, and the health risks associated with tobacco use started to emerge.

Despite the decline in cigar popularity, they remained linked with the idea of leisurely watching a baseball game. Prominent players and managers continued to be seen enjoying cigars, though less frequently in public promotional materials.

Resurgence and Decline Again (1960s-1990s)

The post-World War II era saw a brief resurgence in cigar popularity during the 1950s and 1960s, coinciding with a period of growth and transformation in baseball, including the breaking of the color barrier by Jackie Robinson.

However, the latter part of the 20th Century saw stringent regulations against smoking in public spaces, greatly impacting the visibility of cigars in baseball stadiums. This was also a time when baseball expanded its reach and commercial appeal, moving further away from its earlier, more informal association with cigars.

Modern Era (2000s-Present)

Today, the link between baseball and cigars is largely historical and nostalgic. Smoking bans in stadiums are widespread, reflecting broader public health initiatives against tobacco use. However, cigars still hold a ceremonial place in some baseball rituals, such as championship celebrations where players might light up a cigar in the locker room, away from the public eye.

The modern cigar industry has also evolved, with a focus on premium, handcrafted products that cater to enthusiasts rather than the mass market. Similarly, baseball has grown into a highly professionalized sport with a global following, maintaining its status as a cherished national pastime but in a way that is quite distinct from its humble, smoke-filled beginnings.

This history illustrates how both baseball and cigars have mirrored changes in American society, from leisure habits to health regulations, while maintaining a nostalgic connection that dates back to the early days of the sport.

More Recent Developments and Thoughts

In recent years, again, there has been a resurgence of interest in cigars, but their association with baseball has diminished.  Still, when it comes to cigars in contemporary culture two things come to mind. First, cigar lounges have experienced a resurgence, driven by nostalgia and a renewed appreciation for the craft of cigar-making. These lounges often have baseball memorabilia, connecting with the sport's history. And secondly, some baseball players and coaches are known to enjoy cigars, but this is less common in the public eye due, mainly due to changing societal norms.

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