Ranking the 10 Best Superstitions in Baseball
Many professional athletes will do whatever it takes to get a leg up on the competition, but MLB players seem to take it to a different level when it comes to their unique superstitions.
Whether it's the way a pitcher avoids the foul lines or a batter goes through the motions of re-gripping their batting gloves time after time, the superstitions all serve a purpose for the players.
Some superstitions, however, are a little more unique than that, taking things to a new level of odd.
10. Pregame Meals Can Be Crucial
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
When it comes to mannerisms in the clubhouse, bullpen or even on the mound before a game starts, all pitchers have their routines that can make or break a good start.
Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza makes it a point to serve Popeye's Chicken for the team prior to making a start.
Maybe he'd fit in with the Red Sox.
9. Kiki Cuyler Is Traded over a Superstition?
Pirates outfielder Kiki Cuyler batted third in the lineup. Period.
The superstition prevented him from moving to the No. 2 spot as Pirates manager Donnie Bush wanted and was enough to get him suspended from the team just before the World Series, which they lost to the Yankees.
He was traded to the Cubs that November.
8. The Frank Viola Banner
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Frank Viola was arguably the best pitcher the Minnesota Twins had throughout the 80s, as he won many decisions and played a big part in the team's 1987 World Series Championship.
Based on Viola's superstition, a certain fan may deserve part of that credit.
After noticing that he won all of his decisions during the 1987 season in which a banner reading "Frankie Sweet Music Viola," Viola reached out to the fan upon learning he didn't have World Series tickets.
He provided the fan with tickets to his starts in Games 1 and 7, both of which he won en route to a World Series ring and MVP honors.
7. Derek Holland's Hefty Fast Food Bill
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Apparently, some people believe a pregame meal can mean the difference between a subpar performance and an All-Star outing, and Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland takes that notion to an extreme.
The night before each start, Holland makes his way to the drive-thru window of Wendy's and places his order—a $30 order.
I have to believe having that much in your system would get in the way of physical performance, but as long as it's working for him, I'm sure manager Ron Washington won't have anything to say about it.
6. Jorge Posada Does WHAT to His Hands?
Nick Laham/Getty Images
I'm not sure if this is funny or gross, but the fact that Jorge Posada (and apparently other players) purposely urinates on his hands in an attempt to prevent his hands from getting callused and cracked just seems off.
Maybe it's just me, but I'm pretty sure you can buy lotions that do the same thing.
5. Jason Giambi Wears a Thong
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
When any player finds themselves in the midst of a slump, it seems like they'll try anything out there to break the habit. In the case of Jason Giambi, it meant wearing a gold thong.
Giambi wasn't alone in believing in the power of the thong, as some teammates found it useful in getting out of a funk.
4. For Wade Boggs, Routine Is Everything
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
You have to admire a player that can spend an entire career sticking to a particular routine, but in the case of Wade Boggs, the Hall of Famer took it to a whole new level with his actions.
His common routines included but were not limited to: eating chicken before every game, waking up at the same time each game day, fielding the same number of ground balls during each practice, taking batting practice at exactly 5:17 and running his sprints at 7:17.
3. Old Habits Die Hard
Paul Nordmann/Getty Images
In another entry from the department of gross superstitions that can't be hygienically sound, Mark McGwire kept part of his childhood with him throughout his major league career.
While we've probably all heard stories of people continuing to wear socks or underwear during a winning streak, McGwire took that a step further, wearing the same jock strap from his high school days all the way though his professional career.
2. Turk Wendell's Dentist Would Be Proud
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
When you think of how much of an impact a starting pitcher can have on the outcome of a ballgame, it's not all that surprising that they're some of the most superstitious players in the league.
Take Turk Wendell, for example.
Seeing him avoid the foul lines became commonplace for fans, but his habit of chewing on pieces of black licorice only to spit them out, brush his teeth and chew on more pieces had to be one of the strangest we've seen.
1. The SI Curse, as Started by Eddie Mathews
I've never been one to believe in curses, though this one does seem to transcend all sports, so it's definitely worth noting.
The notion that appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated is bad luck began when the magazine itself did, with Braves third baseman Eddie Mathews appearing on the front of the first issue.
Matthews broke his hand just a week after the release of the issue, thus starting the so-called curse.