Major League Baseball's Top Superstitions and Rituals

Jay BrennanCorrespondent IApril 8, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 05:  Hideki Matsui #55 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim holds his home run ball following their 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Opening Day at Angel Stadium on April 5, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Baseball players tend to be superstitious and can have some strange rituals. Many players often have specific routines they perform in belief it will maintain their success on the mound, field or in the batter box.

All hitters have their series of tugs, pats, and taps when in the batter box. I’m sure we remember how we all mimicked our favorite hitter’s rituals when we were young.

The popular baseball flick Bull Durham depicted some of these superstitions and strange rituals throughout the movie.

Common Rituals

1. The kissing of religious necklaces, making the sign of the cross or point skyward after a home run.

2. Tugging the sleeves, tap of the bat and patting the helmet in the batter box.

3. Some players eat a particular meal before a game.

4. Not grooming on game day.

5. The rally cap would be worn by players and fans help the team win a baseball game.

Famous Rituals

1. The singing of Take me out to the ball game during the 7th inning stretch.

2. Red Sox fans singing Sweet Caroline during the 8th inning stretch at Fenway Park.

3. The game’s first pitch designated to be thrown by an honored guest.

Common Superstitions

1. Players will refuse to wash hats, helmets, or uniforms during a winning streak.

2. Never step on the foul lines coming on or off the field.

3. Abstain from sex on game day.

4. Hitters drawing symbols or letters in the batter box prior to an at-bat.

5. Utilizing lucky bats and gloves are popular among most players.

6. When broadcaster mentions a player’s favorable statistics in the specific situation it will undoubtedly result in the opposite effect.

7. Never talk about a “no-hitter” or a “perfect game” in progress

Famous Superstitions

1. The Curse of the Bambino cited as the reason for the failure of the Boston Red Sox inability to win a World Series for 86 years. The curse was the result of the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees. In 2004, the curse was reversed with a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals by the Boston Red Sox.

2. The Curse of the Black Sox is the spell that has caused the Chicago White Sox not to win a World Series championship for 90 years. The curse was the result of the 1919 Chicago White Sox throwing the World Series in exchange for payments from gambling. In 2005, the spell was broken when the Chicago White Sox defeated the Houston Astros.

3. The Angry Goat is yet another curse in baseball lore to explain a team’s misfortune. Local Tavern owner, Billy Sianis, brought his goat to Game Four of the 1945 World Series. The club owner had Sianis and his goat ejected from the ball park during the game. Sianis was said to have placed a curse on the Cubs proclaiming they would never win another pennant or play in another World Series at Wrigley Field again. The Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908.

Player Rituals and Superstitions

1. Joe DiMaggio would always run from the outfield and touch second base before going into the dugout.

2. New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada is hits barehanded. Posada believes in the superstition that urinating on your hands help avoid calluses and hardening of your skin and regularly does it throughout the season.

3. Hall of Fame third baseman Wade Boggs would take exactly 150 ground balls during practice. Boggs would eat a chicken before every game. When the former Red Sox great would enter the batters box, he would draw the Hebrew word “chai” meaning life in the dirt before taking pitches.

4. David Ortiz rests his bat against his leg, spits on his right hand, and claps when preparing for the batter box.

5. Turk Wendell used to wave from the mound to the centerfielder, who would then wave back. Wendell would brush his teeth and eat four sticks of licorice between innings he was pitching. He would also crouch down every time the catcher stood up and would stand up when the catch would crouch.

6. Red Sox Pitcher Tim Wakefield would eat a pound of spaghetti before any game he is starting.

7. Roger Clemens would soak in extremely hot water and have the hottest possible muscle liniment applied to his genitals.

8. Mark McGuire would wear the same cup from his high school playing days until it was stolen.

9. Brendan Donnelly would throw away the undershirt he wore during the game if he pitched poorly.

Reality Check

Most rituals are born from an outstanding performance. The player will credit the success to something he must have done different because he believes his skills couldn’t have improved so quickly. So in the player’s thought process, by repeating the actions or inactions of the day will lead to a similar positive outcome.

Common sense says that none of these practices magically improves their game. It does however install in the mind of the player that he is in control of his own destiny. Control leads to confidence and that is as valuable as any pre-game drill.

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