Earlier this year, Big League Chew shredded bubble gum released a newly designed package featuring a female athlete for the first-time in the company’s nearly 40-year history.
The female athlete selected to serve as inspiration for the design?
None other than Spencerport (N.Y.) softball sophomore Alayna Berry.
“I’m very honored and humbled, especially with 2019 being the year of girl power,” Berry said. “I’m happy Big League Chew is recognizing women who are amazing and worthy to be heroes for generations to come.”
Berry, 16, is the basis of the design created by Amanda Macfarlane, a freelance illustrator.
Macfarlane, who also happens to be Berry’s aunt, created designs based on her niece after being contacted by Big League Chew in January 2018.
— Big League Chew (@bigleaguechew) January 30, 2019
“Big League Chew agreed to hire me on as the artist and from there we tweaked (the design) for almost a year,” Macfarlane said. “They told me a few details they wanted, like the visor, and patches. After that I pretty much had free range … They liked the design and from there we finished (it) up in September.”
Among the additional tweaks made, such as changing the eye color from blue like Berry to a more hazel color, Big League Chew founder Rob Nelson had a specific request after seeing Macfarlane’s first designs.
“The first thing I asked was ‘can we make her a left-handed batter?’,” said Nelson, a former left-handed pitcher with the Northwest League’s Portland Mavericks in the 1970s. “Obvious bias aside, I wanted the female batter to better contrast the right-handed male batter on the original packaging and I think Amanda hit it out of the park with her design.”
Nelson attended and played college baseball at Cornell University before going to graduate school at SUNY Cortland. Years later, he helped move the manufacturing of Big League Chew to Ford Gum & Machine Company in Akron, Erie County.
Now a resident of Portland, Oregon, he said he didn’t realize during the design process that the athlete modeled on the new packaging would also have ties to western New York.
This girl looks familiar 🤔 https://t.co/a1F1rF0gMi
— Spencerport Softball (@Spencerport_SB) January 25, 2019
Berry is also the granddaughter of former Baltimore Orioles and Rochester Red Wings shortstop Bobby Bonner.
Bonner had 12 at-bats and three hits in the longest professional baseball game ever played, 33 innings, between Rochester and the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1981.
Berry’s mother Krissy Berry, who is the daughter of Bonner, sister of Macfarlane and a former softball player herself, says although her daughter has been surrounded by generations of athletes her entire life, her interest in sports wasn’t piqued right away
“When Alayna was a little girl she never wanted to play sports,” Krissy Berry said. “In the sixth grade she started showing interest in team sports and when she started playing and it all came very natural to her.”
Berry’s natural ability has shown in her relatively short time playing softball with time played at first base, third base and as a pitcher for Spencerport and her travel team at Black and White Baseball/Softball.
Berry also plays basketball and volleyball but plans to focus on her academics and softball for the remainder of her time in high school, with hopes of continuing to help serve as inspiration for female athletes of all ages.
“I’m excited to represent female athletes,” Berry said. “I promise to live up to the honor given by Big League Chew by being competitive, hard-working, encouraging, staying loyal and never giving up.”
Packages featuring the Alayna Berry-inspired design on the “Outta Here Original” flavor of Big League Chew are now available in stores.