Baseball players are notoriously some of the most superstitious people in all of sports. Perhaps it's the huge swings in performance that exist in a season that lasts half a year. Maybe it's a way to create some sense of normalcy and repetition that helps the players get through each day, or maybe baseball players as a whole are a little off-kilter. My inclination leads me to believe it's a combination of all three.
Take a ride with me as I review some of the best superstitions from Major League Baseball.
1) Two of the best baseball movies of all time, Bull Durham and Major League portray the superstitious nature of baseball players to a T. In Bull Durham, Tim Robbins' Nuke LaLoosh attributes his dominance on the mound to his abstinence in the sack. Meanwhile in Major League, power hitting Pedro Cerrano has a shrine dedicated to Jobu. Offering Jobu cigars and rum, Pedro believes it will take the fear from his bat and allow him to hit curveballs. Granted these are just movies (and comedies to boot), but as I delve deeper in to the superstitions of baseball players these silver-screen-borne superstitions don't seem all that farfetched.
2) There are two famous superstitions that have plagued the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox. The Curse of the Billy Goat, and the Curse of the Bambino. I hope I don't have to dig deeper into these "curses" but if you want more information feel free to read up on their Wikipedia entries. Other forms of superstition that have taken form as a good luck charm for fanbases include the Angels Rally Monkey and Pedro's little buddy.
3) Jason Giambi's gold thong. This one was a layup with no real research needed. As all Yankee fans know, Giambi was known to wear a gold thong to break out of slumps. He even passed along the magic thong to Jeter, Bernie, Damon, Cano and Robin Ventura. I'm not too sure I'd want to be passing around a thong amongst teammates, but hey, whatever works. Not quite this kind of slump buster, but a slump buster none the less.
4) Larry Walker is obsessed with the number “3”. He sets his alarm for 33 minutes past the hour, takes practice swings in multiples of three, wears No. 33, was married on Nov. 3 at 3:33 p.m., and bought tickets for 33 disadvantaged kids when he played in Montreal, to be seated in Section 333 at Olympic Stadium. His last contract included a joint $3,333,333 donation to children’s organizations in British Columbia and Colorado.
5) Greg Swindell would bite the tip of his fingernail off and hold it in his mouth for the entire game. Jorge Posada and Moises Alou are both known to toughen their hands by peeing on them. Turk Wendell is one of notably one of the stranger characters in all of baseball. He chewed four pieces of black licorice when he pitched, spit them out after each inning and then brushed his teeth in the dugout. When he was on the mound, Wendell stood if the catcher was squatting, and squatted if the catcher was standing.Turk insisted that the umpire roll the ball to the mound rather than simply throw it to him. (If an umpire had mistakenly thrown the ball at him he let it bounce of his chest, or would let it go past him and pick it up off the ground). To add some more fuel to the weird fire that is Turk Wendell, lets not forget the necklace that adorned his neck; consisting of claws and teeth from animals he had killed.
6) Wade Boggs a.k.a the Chicken Man: What can't be said about Wade? In fact he is the reason why I thought of doing this post. As most people know, he ate chicken before every game garnering the nickname Chicken Man from Red Sox teammate Jim Rice. He woke up at the same time every day, took exactly 150 ground balls in practice, took batting practice at 5:17 and ran sprints at 7:17. He drew the Hebrew word “חי-Chai” in the batter’s box before each at-bat. He always ended his pregame infield practice by stepping, in order, on the third-, second- and first-base bags, stepping on the baseline, taking two steps in the coach’s box and trotting to the dugout in exactly four steps. A little off topic but definitely worth mentioning is Wade's penchant for drinking on cross-country flights. He's rumored to have downed 64 beers in one trip. While he doesn't admit to the number 64 in this clip on PTI, he certainly doesn't deny that he liked to drink on cross-country trips. Fact or fiction? I'll let you decide.
The list can go on and on for baseball players and their strange idiosyncrasies. Whether you think it does anything or not, that is up for debate. Unfortunately for you, you'll never find out the empirical truth because they'll continue to perform their strange rituals until the day they hang up their spikes.