MLB's Strangest Clubhouse Incidents and Urban Legends of All Time
MLB has seen its share of strange and unusual moments over the years.
There have been players like Wade Boggs and Turk Wendell who have played the game with a specific set of superstitious rituals. There have also been characters such as Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who once famously donned a disguise in efforts to return to the dugout after being tossed from a game.
From weather phenomena to press box fires—MLB fans have seen it all over the years. Here are 10 of the MLB's strangest clubhouse incidents and urban legends of all time.
Wade Boggs and His Superstitions
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Hall of Famer Wade Boggs was quite a superstitious fellow during his 18-year career with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. The 12-time All Star accumulated 3,010 hits over his career and several notable superstitions along the way.
Some of these well publicized quirks included drawing "Chai" (Hebrew for life) in the batter's box and taking batting practice at 5:17 PM each day.
His most well-known superstition would have to be the daily ritual of eating chicken before each and every game. This behavior earned him the moniker "Chicken Man" amongst his teammates.
Boggs was named one of the 10 Most Superstitious Athletes by Men's Fitness due to his wildly entertaining and eccentric behavior.
Wrigley Field Evacuates Due to a Tornado
The "Friendly Confines" weren't so friendly for Chicago Cubs fans on one wild summer night a few years ago.
It was Aug 4, 2008, and the Cubs were playing the Houston Astros. A strong line of thunderstorms came through the Chicagoland area and wrecked havoc on the region. The storms also spawned tornadoes in the vicinity of the north side of Chicago. The weather got so bad that the tornado sirens were turned on and Wrigley Field had to be evacuated.
The Associated Press gave a synopsis of the incident:
The game was initially stopped at 7:39 p.m. because of rain with Houston leading 2-0 in the top of the sixth inning. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for downtown Chicago, and a siren went off in the neighborhood surrounding Wrigley Field at about 8:05.
There was an announcement over the ballpark's public address system and a message on the large scoreboard in center field advising fans to seek shelter on the concourse. Most left the upper stands and went into the lower deck, though some stayed in their seats.
The game would eventually resume after a 2-hour-and-45-minute rain delay. It still remains a good bar story for those locals who remember that crazy night from 2008.
Joba Chamberlain Dislocates Ankle on Trampoline
The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE
Joba Chamberlain was involved in a freak accident earlier this year during spring training that almost cost him his career. Chamberlain dislocated his ankle while playing on a trampoline with his son at a recreation center near the Yankees spring training complex in Tampa.
The injury was so gruesome at the time that many media outlets, including the New York Daily News, reported that his career could be in jeopardy.
Luckily for Chamberlain and Yankee fans, that doesn't seem to be the case, and he should return to the majors soon. He threw a simulated game at the Yankees spring training complex earlier this month and may return sometime before the end of the season.
Bobby V. Uses a Disguise
Bobby Valentine was involved in one of the strangest and humorous events in Mew York Mets history. The game in question took place on June 9, 1999. The Mets were playing an interleague matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays at Shea Stadium.
The game was tied 3-3 in the top of the 12th inning when the infamous "fake mustache disguise" incident happened.
With one out and Pat Mahomes pitching, Shannon Stewart tried to steal second base. Mets catcher Mike Piazza successfully threw the advancing Stewart out but was overturned by home plate umpire Randy Marsh. It was decided that batter Craig Grebeck hit Piazza's glove with his swing, which subsequently was called catchers interference.
Grebeck was awarded first base and Stewart was allowed to advance—which in turn caused Valentine to blow his top.
Valentine was ejected by Marsh and returned to the clubhouse, albeit momentarily. He would make an appearance shortly thereafter in a dugout with sunglasses and a fake mustache. He would be caught, suspended two games by MLB and have to pay a $5,000 fine.
Sean Mulligan Traded for a Used Treadmill and Cash
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Small-market teams have been known to make crafty trades to keep their expenses to a minimum. One such example took place between the San Diego Padres and the Cleveland Indians after the 1996 season.
Padres GM Kevin Towers was looking for ways to upgrade the team's workout facilities. Since ownership was not keen on the fact of adding the cost to the teams budget, Towers was forced to come up with an ingenious way to upgrade the exercise equipment.
Hence, the Sean Mulligan trade was born.
Mulligan was a 1991 Padres first-round draft pick who had limited minor league success. When Towers was in need of the funds to purchase two treadmills for the Padres training facility, he initiated a trade with the Indians. The official trade: Mulligan sold to the Indians and $75,000 and a used treadmill in return to the Padres.
“We were kind of at our budget,” the former Padres general manager told utSanDiego.com in 2006. “We didn't have any more dollars to spend and at that time we were sharing the (Qualcomm Stadium) weight room with the Chargers. We needed to buy some new weights. I ended up trading Sean Mulligan to Cleveland for $75,000 and a used Woodway treadmill.”
David Ortiz Jersey Buried at New Yankee Stadium
The storied New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox rivalry almost took a strange turn in 2008 during the construction of the new Yankee Stadium.
A construction worker who was working on the stadium at the time decided that it would be a good idea to place a David Ortiz jersey into the concrete foundation of the new ballpark. The ploy of cursing the new Yankee Stadium almost worked until Yankee management got word of the act.
The Yankees held a faux excavation ceremony where the tattered Ortiz jersey was extricated from the concrete. There was a happy ending to this story as the jersey in question was auctioned off for $175,100, with proceeds donated to the Jimmy Fund.
Jose Ceda Locked in bathroom during game
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Former Miami Marlins reliever Jose Ceda learned a valuable lesson last season. If you have to use the bathroom, make sure you do so before the game.
Ceda was the recipient of a hilarious prank when his Marlins teammates decided to lock him inside a bullpen bathroom.
The video can be seen here courtesy of MLB.com.
Ceda finished the 2011 season with an 0-1 record, 4.43 ERA and one big lesson on ballpark bathroom etiquette.
Press Box Fire at Fulton County Stadium
Photo courtesy of ballparktour.com
The term "Hot-lanta" took on a whole new meaning for the Atlanta Braves on a summer evening in 1993. The press box at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium erupted in flames before the scheduled game between the Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals.
The fire lasted for 90 minutes and was eventually extinguished, allowing the game to commence. Atlanta wound up winning the game 8-5, but the game also held special significance as Fred McGriff made his Brave debut as well.
Turk Wendell Alligator Fang Necklace
Photo courtesy of Complex magazine
There have been many eccentric players in MLB over the years. One player who was very superstitious and had a tendency of wearing strange necklaces was Turk Wendell.
His Alligator Fang Necklace was called a "fashion fail" by Complex magazine.
He wasn't just limited to strange necklaces as he was prone to other superstitious behavior. He famously used to leap over baselines while coming to and from the pitcher's mound and used to nibble on licorice in the bullpen before entering games.
His zany mound antics led him to being named the Most Superstitious Athlete of All Time by Men's Health magazine. Wendell pitched for 11 seasons with four teams including the New York Mets. He finished his career 36-33 with a 3.93 ERA.
Steve Lyons Drops His Pants During Game
The night when former MLB player Steve Lyons inexplicably pulled his pants down will go down as one of the strangest moments in baseball history.
The game in question took place during the 1990 season and involved the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox. Lyons at the time was a utility infielder for the White Sox and was known for his scrappy play.
The incident took place when Lyons tried to bunt for a base hit. As he approached first base, he dived for the bag. He was called safe on the play, but then something peculiar happened as Lyons stood up after the play.
He pulled his pants down.
Lyons retired from baseball in 1993 and transitioned into a broadcasting career.