The 20 Most Bizarre Sports Superstitions

Sean BeckwithContributor IApril 9, 2011

The 20 Most Bizarre Sports Superstitions

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    COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 26:  Hall of Famer Wade Boggs waves to the crowd as he is introduced at Clark Sports Center during the 2009  Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 26, 2009 in Cooperstown, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    I like to think I'm not superstitious. I don't go out of my way to break popular superstitions but I'm not afraid to walk under a ladder or look at a cracked mirror and I could care less if a black cat crosses my path. (I find it creepy, in a cool way.) However, I totally understand why athletes are superstitious because luck plays a huge part in sports. Think about a shooter's bounce, a bloop single, a tipped pass or any number of weird caroms a hockey puck can take.

    The difference between a champion and runner-up often comes down to favorable bounces. Just ask Gordon Hayward, David Tyree, Matt Davison or anybody who gambles on sports.

Honorable Mention

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    SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 25:  Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during Spring Training Media Day on February 25, 2011 at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Adrian Beltre hates when people touch his head. However, I'm not sure if it's a pet peeve or a superstition but judging by his reactions, I'm going with pet peeve.

20: MIchael Jordan

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    Everybody should know about Jordan's superstition because "Spacejam" is the epitome of American cinema. If you haven't seen the movie then you're not American. Jordan wore his North Carolina basketball shorts underneath his Chicago shorts throughout his career.

19: Peyton Manning

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    Before every game, Peyton reads the game program from front to back. I'm not sure whether it's a superstition or if he's doing a little last-minute game preparation.

    Side note: I heard Jamarcus Russell did the opposite. The only game preparation he did was reading the opponent's game program.

18: Brian Urlacher

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    The Chicago Bears' middle linebacker has to eat two chocolate chip cookies before every game. If you were to ask me what Urlacher's pregame meal consists of, I would probably guess raw steak or an entire rack of ribs not cookies.

17: Nascar Drivers

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    Apparently Nascar has its own set of superstitions. Green cars are bad luck. (Somebody should tell Danica Patrick.) Drivers are hesitant to carry $50 bills and peanuts are outlawed. The shells bring bad luck. Before a race in 1937, peanut shells were sprinkled on the cars of five different drivers and all five crashed during the race. Any other kind of nut or legume is acceptable.

    Side note: Peanuts are technically legumes and not nuts. You learn something new everyday.

16: Jason Terry

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    Jason Terry and Mike Bibby, former Arizona Wildcat teammates, would sleep in their game shorts the night before the game. When Terry went to the NBA, he switched from wearing his team's short to wearing the opponent's shorts.

    The Miami Heat caught wind of this during the 2006 NBA Finals and he was forced to wear Dallas Mavericks shorts because he couldn't get a pair of Heat shorts.

    The Jet also wears knee-high socks as an ode to his father. However, he wears five pairs of socks at a time because he says it's more comfortable.

15: Mike Bibby

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    Aside from Bibby and Terry's shorts superstition, Bibby has to bite his nails during games. The habit transitioned into using nail clippers whenever he goes to the bench.

    Side note: I couldn't be Bibby's teammate because I can't stand when people clip their nails in front of me. I even hate the sound of people clipping their nails. I also hate when people let their nails get too long.

14: Steve Finley and Darin Erstad

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    While Finley was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks his teammate, Craig Counsell, gave him a necklace with a leather pouch containing various "mystic" minerals designed to ward off injuries and end slumps.

    When Finley went to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, he shared his superstition with new teammate Darin Erstad. Finley went on a hot streak and hit .350 for three months with the help of the mysterious pouch.

    The injury-prone Erstad also went on a hitting streak and stayed healthy for a month.

13: Mike Hargrove

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    As a player, Mike Hargrove earned the nickname "The Human Rain Delay" because of his batting box routine. The routine started before he stepped in the batting box. He would walk up the first-base line and take three practice swings then step to the plate. After every pitch, he would step out of the box, fiddle with his gloves, sleeves, pants, batting helmet and wipe the perspiration off his lips.

12: John Henderson

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    The current Oakland Raider and former Jacksonville Jaguar and Tennessee Volunteer needs a little pregame encouragement. He has an assistant team trainer open-hand slap him as hard as he can. I'm sure the 6'7" 335-pound defensive tackle can handle it.

    Side note: John Henderson is crazy.

11: John McGraw

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    The New York baseball Giants manager hired Charlie Faust, a farmer, to be a pitcher because he thought Faust was good luck. Faust told McGraw that a fortune teller predicted success for the Giants if McGraw let Faust pitch. The team went on a winning streak despite Faust's terrible pitching and McGraw fitted him for a uniform anyway.

    McGraw also picked up heads-up pennies and hairpins. McGraw once hired a horse-drawn beer wagon to cross the polo grounds for 10 straight days because the first day it happened, one of his players had a great day at the plate.

10: Patrick Roy

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    One of the best goaltenders of all-time refuses to step on the red line or the blue line. During games he also talks to his goal posts and once told a reporter, "the goalposts are my friend." You have to be a little crazy to be goalie.

9: Pelle Lindbergh

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    Another goalie makes an appearance. Pelle Lindbergh, a goalie for the Philadelphia Flyers, wore the same Swedish sporting goods shirt under his uniform every game. He would have it mended whenever it began to fall apart.

    The superstitions didn't end there. Lindbergh would only drink a Swedish beverage called Pripps between periods but only if the designated trainer delivered it with exactly two ice cubes in it.

8: Caron Butler

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    Caron Butler had a multitude of superstitions. Until the Wizards forced him to drink water, he would chug half a two liter of Mountain Dew before a game and finish the rest at half time.

    Another superstition, that has since been stopped, involved straws. He would chew straws during timeouts and games but only if they were from McDonalds.

7: Goran Ivanisevic

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    This tennis player had a plethora of superstitions. During matches he would avoid stepping on the line whenever possible. Coming out of change overs, he would always try to be second out of his chair.

    If he won a match, he would repeat everything he did off the court from the previous day. Go to the same restaurant, eat the same dish and try to talk to the same people.

6: Bruce Gardiner

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    Gardiner spent five years in the NHL. Most notably for the Ottawa Senators. He played forward and was in the midst of a slump when teammate, Tom Chorske, gave him some unsettling advice. Chorske told Gardiner that he was respecting his stick too much and told him to dunk it in the opposing teams' toilet.

    Gardiner only dunked the blade of the stick in the toilet. He didn't do it habitually either but resorted to it whenever he needed to break out of a slump.

5: Moises Alou

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    Moises Alou doesn't wear batting gloves and he has a particularly gross way of toughening his hands up. Throughout the year, he urinates on his hands. No word on if he washes his hands post-urination.

    Side note: Remind me to never shake his hand or ask for an autograph.

4: Mark "The Bird" Fidrych

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    "The Bird" had a phenomenal rookie season for the Detroit Tigers in 1976. He won 19 games and posted a 2.34 ERA. In addition to his excellent pitching, Detroit fans were also enamored with his antics on the mound.

    He routinely talked to the ball and fidgeted with the mound between pitches. Unfortunately, his career only lasted five years due of injuries.

3: Turk Wendell

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    This journeyman pitcher didn't chew tobacco or bubble gum but rather black licorice. He would chew four pieces of black licorice while pitching. After the third out, he would sprint back to the dugout, vault over the base path and brush his teeth. He would repeat the routine after every inning he pitched.

    Side note: Black licorice is gross.

2: Kevin Rhomberg

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    Kevin Rhomberg only played 41 games in the majors but he was superstitious enough to leave a lasting impression. According to former pitcher Rick Mahler, Rhomberg would have to touch you if you touched him.

    If he was tagged out on the base path, he would wait until the end of the inning then track down the infielder and touch him before the infielder reached the dugout.

    Another one of his twitches was to never take a right turn on the diamond because when running the bases, you always turn left.

1: Wade Boggs

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    Apparently Boggs' list of superstitions is very long but here are a few. Before every game he would eat chicken and this earned him the nickname "Chicken Man". Before every game, he would take exactly 150 ground balls. At 5:17 he would enter the batting cage and at 7:17 he would run wind sprints.

    He wrote the word "Chai" in the dirt of the batting box before every at bat.

    He also had a Mike Hargrove-esque routine after every pitch. He would swipe at the dirt in front of him with his left foot, pat his gloves two or three times and adjust his helmet.

    If you could have a count down of just your superstitions, you get the number one spot.