Crazy Baseball Superstitions From The History Of The Sport
Infielder Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees slides into second base against the Boston Red Sox March 17, 2008 at Legends Field in Tampa, Florida. Source: (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Baseball players are among the most superstitious athletes of any sport. I mean, the Cubs thought they were cursed for 100 years because some guy could bring his goat to see a game. Even individual players are prone to odd rituals and strange superstitions. Lucky jerseys, lucky socks, lucky bats…baseball players seem to assign special significance to random objects and believe they have the power to influence the score. Here are some of the wackier baseball superstitions that will change the way you look at some of your favorite players.
When Roger Clemens played for the Yankees, which was from 1999-2003 and then for one season in 2007, he started a ritual to pay homage to Babe Ruth. Before each home game, Clemens stopped at Monument Park to wipe the forehead of the Babe Ruth statue that stands there. It was his way of asking the great Babe Ruth for help in the upcoming game.
Sometimes you need a bit of magic to help you break out of a slump. At least, that’s what Jason Giambi believes. He has been known to try some crazy things to improve his game, but maybe the weirdest is his obsession with his shiny gold thong. Yep, during slumps, Giambi would wear a metallic gold thong under his uniform for good mojo. Of course, it is hard to keep a golden thong a secret in the locker room. When word got around about Giambi’s unconventional slump-breaking tool, the generous Giambi even let some teammates borrow it. What a guy!
During his entire 18 years in baseball, Moises Alou never wore a batting glove. He felt that batting gloves hindered his grip and his ability to control the bat. But blisters became a problem for him. That’s when Alou developed unorthodox ways to toughen up the skin on his hands to strengthen the calluses and relieve the blisters. Before every game, he would urinate on his own hands. Yep, you heard that right. He thought that his own pee would help his skin become stronger. Let’s hope he thoroughly washed his hands afterward…with plenty of soap and hot water.
From 1958 to 1960, Dick Stuart was a top hitter in the league. Three times, he surpassed the 30-home run mark. Maybe it was all thanks to a superstitious ritual that he did every time he was up to bat. He would chew off a small piece of his chewing gum and throw it across home plate. Apparently, the thought process was, if the gum could cross the plate, so could he. Although it was all psychological, it seemed to help Stuart.
Even though segregated baseball leagues kept Satchel Paige from reaching his full potential as a major leaguer, he is still regarded as one of the best pitchers of all time. Paige treated his body like a machine…he even had his throwing arm rubbed down with axle grease before each game. He believed that it loosened up his arm so much that he could pitch all nine innings.
Most pitchers like to chew on something while on the mound, like bubble gum or tobacco. But Greg Swindell had an unusual chewing habit that he believed brought him luck during the game. Just before each game, he gnawed off the tip of one of his fingernails and hold the nail clipping in his mouth throughout the whole game. To him, the fingernail was more than a means to satisfy his chewing habit. It was a source of good luck that had the power to make him a better pitcher.
Many baseball players keep strict routines and rituals in hopes of making the baseball gods happy. That’s why Justin Verlander eats the exact same dinner every night before a game. Not just any meal…Verlander makes a run for the border. He orders Taco Bell’s cheesy gordita crunch, a Mexican pizza with no tomatoes, and three crunchy taco supremes with no tomatoes. Hardly the fuel of an elite athlete, Verlander eats the food more for its baseball magic than its nutritional content.
Outfielder Rico Carty was an impressive hitter in the early 1970s. He even hit .366 to win the batting title in 1970. Carty knew that the secret to his success lie in a strange ritual that he did in his hotel room prior to each game. He floated five candles in the hotel’s toilet and lit them, in hopes that the toilet candles would grant him a five-hit game.
Wade Boggs had several odd rituals that, he truly believed, kept him a leader in the game. Before every at-bat, just before stepping into the batter’s box, Boggs wrote the word ‘chai’, Hebrew for ‘life’, in the dirt. He then swiped the dirt with his left foot, tapped his glove three times, and straightened his hat, in an obsessive-compulsive way.
Baseball players often believe that there is luck or magic contained in certain items, like a lucky shirt or lucky socks. For Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, his magic was in his batting helmet. He refused to wear any other batting helmet other than his lucky helmet the entire time he played for the New York Yankees. When he became a free agent and signed with the Angels, he naturally wanted to keep his lucky streak going. He brought his favorite batting helmet with him to Los Angeles and has the helmet repainted with the Angels logo.
Willie Stargell, one of the best hitters of the 1970s, thought that it was bad luck for him to step up to the plate with a baseball bat bearing his name. Maybe he thought it was boastful and would anger the baseball gods. Whatever the reason, Stargell refused to have his own name on his bats. He would order his new bats with his teammates’ names on them. That way, the bats would perform better for Stargell.
Tags: baseball | baseball superstitions | football history
Like it? Share with your friends!