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Baseball & Cigar Knowledge Passed Down From Vet to Rookie

Not too long ago tobacco use of all kinds was readily accepted in Major League Baseball. Beginning with the first baseball cards being produced by cigarette companies to the time when nearly every player on the field was carrying a mouthful of chaw, tobacco was as much a part of the game as hot dogs and hit and runs. Now, in the current PC climate the sport tries to distance itself from tobacco. Brett Butler told us all about the evils of chewing. Detroit smoking regulations have made it so Jim Leyland is no longer allowed to sneak into the runway to

Luis Tiant Puffing Away

smoke a cigarette.

However, baseball is a sport steeped in tradition, and some of these traditions will never go away. The victory cigar will always be a part of the game, whether for celebrating playoff berths or no hitters, puffing on a fine cigar signifies a job well done. Another age-old tradition in baseball that will never go away is veterans passing on their wisdom and knowledge of the sport to the young, wide-eyed rookies. As an avid Red Sox fan witnessing the last dying gasps of Boston’s 2010 playoff hopes, I caught an article this morning about the team that actually made me smile.

The article was about one of the minor league pitchers called up to the big club for the September roster expansions so the brass can get a look at him up close against Major League competition. The rookie in question is 25-year-old Robert Coello, whose family hails from Cuba. When Coello signed a minor league contract with Boston before the 2009 season, long-time Sox pitcher and fellow Cuban Luis Tiant immediately sought him out to take him under his wing and teach him a few tricks. Coello says their relationship has deepened to the point where he refers to Tiant as “a second father”. In addition to sharing a passion for playing baseball, both Tiant and Coello also share a love for fine cigars. Tiant’s is obviously well known, he has his own cigar line called “El Tiante” and was notorious for his excessive cigar smoking throughout his playing career. Coello is less famous and more low-key, but he does keep a small humidor in his locker. After meeting with Tiant before last night’s game, he gave Tiant two cigars from his stash, joking about how Tiant should be the one giving the handouts since he has the better collection.

This bond can only be good for Coello and the Red Sox team. I think it’s wonderful that a legend can still take the time to get to know a young kid and work with him, teaching him about the game and more. Two people bonding over cigars is certainly nothing new, but this particular instance caught my attention and reminded me why both baseball and cigar smoking can be such great pastimes.

Coello made his major league debut on September 6th, giving up 3 runs in a third of an inning to Tampa Bay. He’s improved since with 3 straight scoreless outings, giving up only 1 hit and 2 walks while striking out 4 over 4 innings. Maybe he is starting to put Tiant’s advice to good use. We’ll see if he can win a spot in the bullpen in 2011 and help the team get back on track for the playoffs so he can get a taste of a World Series victory cigar.

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