Ranking the 11 Greatest Celebration Traditions in Major League Baseball History
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Everyone has a unique way of celebrating an achievement. Celebrations can be rather subdued—such as a high five or a pat on the back. Other times it can be totally outrageous or outright comical.
MLB baseball has had its share of rather "unique" celebrators over the years. Here are 11 of the greatest celebration traditions in baseball history.
Let the debate begin!
No. 11 Jose Valverde: Strikeout Antics
One of the most demonstrative and polarizing closers of all time is the Detroit Tigers' Jose Valverde. His celebratory antics have been embraced by hometown fans and scorned by others. He has even drawn the ire of opposing players, most notably Miguel Montero of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Montero famously called Valverde "unprofessional" after an outburst in June 2010.
Not every player has been critical of Valverde's tendency to show up players. Free agent and former teammate Johnny Damon gave his take in a 2010 article on MLB.com.
"He's been doing it his entire career," Damon said of Valverde's demonstrative behavior on the mound. "I like it better since he's on my team. But Montero isn't going to be the last guy to be upset about it. I just hope Valverde keeps on doing it because that means we are winning ballgames. Playing this game for a long time I try not to have complaints about anything. The only thing you can do is compete and hustle."
No. 10 Deion Sanders: "The Tomahawk Chop"
The Tomahawk Chop is one of the most controversial celebratory gestures in college and professional sports. Considered highly-offensive by some Native Americans, the chop has been used by teams such as the Florida State Seminoles, Illinois Fighting Illini and the Atlanta Braves.
The Tomahawk Chop was brought to the Atlanta Braves in the early 1990's by outfielder and former Florida State Seminole two-sport star Deion Sanders. The "Seminoles War Chant" is still used by the Braves as a rallying and celebratory gesture to this day.
No. 9 New York Mets: Home Run Apple
One of the most clever marketing schemes ever devised was the New York Mets' Home Run Apple. Introduced in 1980, the Apple was a ploy by the Mets to generate fan interest during a period of prolonged futility. It didn't seem to bring much home run charm at first as the Mets failed to hit more than 61 dingers during its first season of operation at Shea Stadium.
However, a whole generation of Mets fans would grow a certain affinity to the red, shiny fruit as it would symbolize the successful teams that followed later that decade. The old apple didn't make the trip across the parking lot to the new Citi Field. A new and much larger apple now inhabits the area beyond the outfield fence and is visible for a new generation of Mets fans to enjoy.
No. 8 Texas Rangers: "The Natural"
Every ballpark in the major leagues has some sort of way of celebrating a home run. The Yankees use an air raid siren followed by Westminster chime. The Brewers have Bernie Brewer catapulting himself down a slide and who can forget the exploding scoreboard at US Cellular Field?
The Texas Rangers have their own unique and natural way of celebrating home runs.
Roy Hobbs would be proud as theme from the 1984 movie "The Natural" plays every time a Ranger player goes yard. There isn't an exact date for when the Rangers adopted the tune written by Randy Newman. Some suspect it was implemented sometime in the late 1990's during the Juan Gonzalez era.
No. 7 Chicago Cubs: "Go, Cubs, Go"
Those who live in close proximity to Wrigley Field don't need to have a clear visual shot of the customary "W" flag to know if the home team was victorious.
You can hear it!
The "Go, Cubs, Go" song by Steve Goodman can be heard for blocks around the grand ballpark at the corner of Clark and Addison. The song itself was written by Goodman in 1984 and has evolved over the years into the de facto Cubs' victory and theme song.
No. 6 John Sterling: The Yankees Win!
No one can ever say New York Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling lacks enthusiasm. Sterling has brought his own unique blend of oratory style and theatrics to the Yankees broadcast booth.
His trademark "Yankees Win" call originated at the end of a Memorial Day game against the Boston Red Sox in 1991. The Yankees won the game when Mel Hall drilled a game-winning homer into the right field stands off Red Sox closer Jeff Reardon.
"They were awful, and they didn't win, and so when there was a dramatic game that they won, I'd yell 'Yankees win,' " Sterling said in a USATODAY article describing the pre-dynasty Yankees of the early 1990's.
The Yankees finished 71-91 that season.
No. 5 Boston Red Sox: "Sweet Caroline"
It seems every MLB team has a theme song of some sort. The New York Yankees have ended each victory with the Frank Sinatra classic "New York, New York" for years. The Boston Red Sox have their own traditional celebratory song, the Neil Diamond ode to young love "Sweet Caroline."
The origins of "Sweet Caroline" being played at Red Sox games dates back to the late 1990's when former Fenway Park music director Amy Tobey decided to play it during a half-inning break. Some have said her decision to choose the Diamond song was based on the fact that it was a popular choice at other sporting venues.
The song has endured and is played at the end of every eighth inning during Red Sox games.
No. 4 Chicago White Sox: Exploding Scoreboard
Fans celebrate after 2005 World Series Game 1 victory over Houston Astros
The Chicago White Sox have never shied away from being different. That philosophy was followed by owner Bill Veeck, who experimented with all sorts of things. From the clever—installing an electric blower to clear dust off home plate, to the puzzling— a brief but memorable failed attempt in the 1970's to replace uniform pants with shorts, it's safe to say the White Sox have always given the press something to write about.
One of the most popular and lasting additions by Veeck was the exploding scoreboard, which Veeck installed at the old Comiskey Park in 1960. The scoreboard has remained a popular institution at U.S. Cellular Field. The scoreboard goes off before every White Sox game as well after home runs, and team victories.
No. 3 Mark McGwire & Jose Canseco: Bash Brothers
There once was a time when Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco electrified crowds at the O.co Coliseum with their celebratory forearm bashes. The dynamic duo would be anointed the "Bash Brothers" and would power the Oakland A's to a period of renewed success during the late 1980's.
The apex of their mighty ascent to the top of the baseball world would come in 1989 as McGwire and Canseco would lead the A's to their first championship in over 15 years. The 1989 World Series sweep over the San Francisco Giants will however be remembered for the earthquake that struck prior to Game 3.
Future generations of A's players such as Jason Giambi would adopt the forearm bash as an ode to those wildly successful teams of the Canseco-McGwire era.
No. 2 Reggie Jackson: Curtain Call
Curtain calls have been part of the major league baseball celebratory lexicon for ages. One of the most famous curtain callers was no other than "Mr. October" Reggie Jackson.
The Yankee slugger was not bashful in showing his emotion as his outbursts and commentary were well documented throughout his career in New York. Jackson seemed to perform his best when the spotlight shone the brightest.
Jackson put on a tremendous power display in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, homering three times to guide the Yankees to a championship.The last home run off reliever Charlie Hough was hit so hard and far that it could still be traveling—35 years later.
His final curtain call will always leave in an indelible mark as he stood outside the Yankees dugout being serenaded by to the chants of "Reggie, Reggie, Reggie."
No. 1 Ozzie Smith: The Back Flip
Those who grew up in the 1980's remember the weekly program "This Week in Baseball." The show opened up with a musical montage of players of the day performing all sorts of acrobatic plays and feats. One lasting image that endures is that of a future Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith doing a back flip amidst a sea of flashbulbs.
He sure knew how to make an entrance!
The master of the celebratory back flip would open each inning with an awe-inspiring acrobatic move. The move become Smith's signature trademark during his early years with the San Diego Padres. He was encouraged by Padres promotion director Andy Strasberg to utilize the move and it grew into a greater phenomenon.
To this day, the Smith back flip is one of the most electrifying celebratory moves ever performed at a Major League Baseball game. It was synonymous with St. Louis Cardinals baseball and will forever hold a place in baseball lore.