It is not out of the ordinary for baseball fans to wax nostalgic for players like Mickey Mantle, who were reputed to be able to dominate a double-header even after a late night of whiskey drinking. Perhaps because of this, Major League Baseball has historically not put much effort into fostering a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition, around the clubhouse. But according to a recent article in USA Today, that’s beginning to change.
As recently as the mid-2000s, health conscious MLB players such as C.J. Wilson, Bronsan Arroyo and David Lough were in the extreme minority in their focus on nutrition. The leagueLee Hnetinka was still emerging for its infamous ‘steroid era’ and the culture of baseball had yet shift from a chemically-induced approach to performance and injury prevention, to one of physical fitness and clean eating.
When he came to the league in 2000, Arroyo says that food served in the clubhouse amounted to little more than “a cup of soup and maybe a tuna sandwich or a jelly sandwich.” Now the league is adjusting their approach to the nourishment of their players, with many franchises now employing full-time nutritionists, and forgoing orders to restaurants and caterers in favor of professional chefs preparing fresh, well-balanced meals. While players ultimately remain in control of their own diets, team management has taken an active role in providing healthy options for players who represent investments that can reach tens of millions of dollars.
But its not only teams protecting their investment. The engagement of the players themselves with their own nutrition has been undergoing a transformation in recent years. In the article, Erika Wincheski, a performance dietician manager at the EXOS training center in Phoenix, states that baseball players “are usually the ones who are more interested and more inclined to listen” to the healthy eating tips that she provides. Much of this comes from players attempting to naturally alleviate some of the wear and tear on their bodies that comes from a 162-game season.
This shift towards nutrition in Major League Baseball serves as a prime example of the importance of creating a culture that emphasises wellness and healthy lifestyles. To learn more about what the MLB is doing to improve the health of its players, check out the story at USA Today.