McDonald: An oral history of Big League Chew

From Anna McDonald at on May 6, 2015:

Jim Bouton and Rob Nelson say it was pure luck that the two of them sat in the Portland Mavericks bullpen one night in 1977 and came up with an idea: shredded bubble gum. In a pouch.

What they couldn’t know, then, was that Big League Chew would eventually sell 600 million packages worldwide. And counting.

It all started when actor Bing Russell, best known for his role in the television series Bonanza, and the father of Hollywood’s Kurt Russell, brought an independent baseball team to Portland, Oregon in 1973.

“Bing Russell was as much interested in finding guys who loved baseball as he was in finding guys who could play baseball,” says Nelson.

This story – about the invention and success of Big League Chew – hinges upon the people woven through the fabric of Bouton and Nelson’s life. So it starts, not in the Portland Mavericks’ bullpen, but when Bouton and Nelson were kids.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 6, 2015. Last Updated: May 6, 2015.