Friday the 13th in Sports

Stan Silliman@@stansillimanCorrespondent IIAugust 13, 2010

NEW YORK - JANUARY 9: Controversial former baseball great Pete Rose attends a signing for his autobiography 'My Prison Without Bars' January 9, 2004 in New York City. In the newly-released book, Rose admitted to gambling on the Cincinnati Reds while he managed the team. (Photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images)
Joe Kohen/Getty Images



Okay, folks, the longest word in Silliman on Sports history. A combination of three Greek words – paraskevi means “Friday”, dekatria means “Thirteen” and phobia meaning “fear”. No,  not the fear of getting thirteen olives in your Greek salad. It's fear of Friday the 13th, like you’ll be all quivering and afraid to cross the street. We here at Silliman say “bunk.” Go ahead and cross the street. We think it’ll be funny to watch you quiver while doing so.  

Athletes are extra superstitious. Didn’t you know that? Tennis players are superstitious about holding three balls at once. Hey, maybe that’s the reason Italian men are such lousy tennis players.

All sportsmen are superstitious. If a barefoot woman passes in front of a fisherman, he’ll just turn around and put his pole up. However if a bare-breasted woman passes in front of a fisherman, it’s the other way round. Either way, the fisherman would be better off not fishing at the beach.

Rodeo cowboys always put their right foot in the stirrup first. Unless they’re from Brokeback Mountain, in which case, you don’t want to know where the stirrups are.

Some players are afraid to wear #13. Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca was not. He even playfully posed with black cats prior to the 1951 Playoffs with the Giants. Of course, during those playoffs Ralph did surrender one of the most famous home runs of all time to Bobby Thompson.

So much for daring the spirits, we say. So distraught by his bad luck, Ralph later became a hockey goalie, changed his name to Jason and cleaned up in the slasher movie business. Quick piece of advice: If you happen to see him in a couple of days and you ask for his autograph, don’t mention his baseball pitching days.

Did you know in the 1800s Lloyds of London refused to insure any ship sailing on Friday the 13th? Even today the US Navy will not launch a ship on any Friday the 13th. Ninety percent of all skyscrapers and hotels have no 13th floor.

That’s a little too much, right? Jesus died on a Friday. There were 13 people at the Last Supper table and Judas was the 13th. A Viking’s hangman noose has 13 knots and the Vikings had 13 strippers on their party boat.  But it’s not all bad. In 1984, Pete Rose collected his 4000th hit on Friday the 13th. Certainly no bad luck befell him.

Again we say bunk and enough with paraskevidekatriaphobia. If you want to be a triskaidekaphobe, like FDR, we say okay. Shortly after his presidency entered its 13th year Roosevelt died on Thursday, April 12th, 1945. He considered himself lucky.

Are you bugged yet? Are you ready for this coming Friday? One thing you might want to do, besides walking around the house 13 times, wearing garlic and staying away from TGIF, is to get rid of all your one dollar bills.

If you wish to send them to me, send them to the paper or Bleacher Report in care of me. You doubt us? Take a look at the bill's backside. Thirteen steps on the pyramid, 13 letters in the Latin above it, 13 stars above the Eagle, 13 feathers in each of the Eagle’s wings, 13 leaves on the olive branch, 13 arrows and 13 bars on the shield. Each of your bucks is a baker’s dozen for the phobic.

Not every Friday the 13th is bad. Milton Hershey was born on Friday, September 13, 1857. That’s chocolate, folks.

Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner” on Friday, September 13, 1814. So if you sing the anthem while eating chocolate and send all your one dollar bills to us you’ll survive. 

If you attend a sporting event this Friday, make copies of this column and pass them out.  Let your friends know where to send their dollar bills. Thanks.