Baseball's 50 Best Traditions

Dan Tylicki@DanTylickiAnalyst IDecember 9, 2010

Baseball's 50 Best Traditions

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    MILWAUKEE - JUNE 17:  A view of the Polish sausage, the Italian sausage, the Hot Dog, and the Bratwurst in the famous Sausage Race taken during the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Seattle Mariners on June 17, 2004 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, W
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Baseball: America's national pastime, a game rooted in the past and in tradition. It's a sport where, more than any other, you look back at the dominance of yesteryear.

    Talking points begin not with Barry Bonds, but Babe Ruth; not with Pete Rose, but Ty Cobb. Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams and Willie Mays are also the talk of many.

    There are many traditions in baseball. Some are limited to one team or ballpark, while others are practiced and celebrated throughout the league.

    The following is a list of 50 of baseball's greatest traditions. They are in no particular order. After all, you can't put a price tag on tradition.

Ceremonial First Pitch

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    WASHINGTON - APRIL 05:  U.S. President Barack Obama throws out the opening pitch before the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 5, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Martin H. Simon
    Pool/Getty Images

    In a tradition 100 years in the making, a notable person will often throw out the first pitch of the ball game. Usually, it's a local celebrity, a local hero or someone of that nature. For the first game of the season, it is typically the President of the United States who throws it out.

    The tradition began in 1910 when President William Taft threw out the first pitch at the Washington Senators game. For a time, the first pitch rotated to other cities, but now that Washington again has a franchise, the incumbent president usually throws out the first pitch in the Nationals game.

Baseball Food

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    WASHINGTON - APRIL 13:  A vender sells cracker jack before the Washington Nationals home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on April 13, 2009 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Before we even get to the game itself, let's look at other traditions involving either going to or watching the game.

    One of the major ones is simply buying food. Yes, it's expensive these days, but it's something you do nonetheless. There's a reason food is mentioned in "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

    What constitutes baseball food, or stadium food, if you prefer? Some vary among location, but the staples are peanuts, hot dogs, Cracker Jack, nachos and the huge soda/pop that costs $5 and you know you're not going to finish, but nonetheless you get that souvenir cup.

    There are many more too: pretzels, beer, ice cream—the list goes on and on.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

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    While on the subject of peanuts and Cracker Jack, the anthem of the ballpark, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," is one all baseball fans know. Few know the full song, but everybody who's seen a ball game knows the chorus.

    Harry Caray is likely the most well-known man to sing this. The longtime Cubs announcer began singing it to himself in his booth as the White Sox announcer when Bill Veeck turned his mic on, letting him sing it to the crowd. When he moved to the Cubs and Wrigley Field, it became a tradition.

    The tune is sung at each game during the...

Seventh-Inning Stretch

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15:  TV personality Larry King with son cheers on during the seventh inning stretch in Game One of the NLCS between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Dodger Stadium on October 1
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Once the top of the seventh inning is over, you start to feel a little tired; if you haven't gotten anything to eat or drink (but you have, as I've noted earlier), then you'll feel like you need to stretch out and walk a bit.

    The popular origin of this, though it's most likely legend, is that during a 1910 game, President Taft got up to stretch in the middle of the seventh, and out of respect, the crowd joined him as well.

    After getting up and singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," people sit back down or grab their final snacks (now's the time for ice cream if it's summer), and the game begins to wrap up.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game as Sung by Celebrities

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    After Harry Caray's death in 1998, the tradition of singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" continued. Instead of just the crowd singing it, celebrities would be invited to sing it along with the crowd.

    If you name a celebrity, there's a good chance they've sung it. Mr. T, Ozzy Osbourne, Bill Murray—the list goes on.

    Some sing it very well. Others, well, not so much.

The National Anthem

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 20:  (L-R) Ben Francisco #10, Shane Victorino #8, Chase Utley #26, Carlos Ruiz #51 and Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies stand during the national anthem before Game Four of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs against t
    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Of course, who can forget the singing of the national anthem? It's sung at the start of every sporting event, yes, but baseball was the originator, doing it for every game since World War II and even performing it once in a while during the 19th century.

Sweet Caroline at Fenway Park

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    While the national anthem and seventh-inning stretch are played baseball-wide, this is a tradition centric to the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park.

    The tradition of playing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" is relatively new, as the song began to be played in the middle of the eighth inning each day in 2002. It has since caught on, and maybe this is something that helped to break the Curse of the Bambino.

New York, New York at Yankee Stadium

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    Now that I've included a Red Sox tradition, let's add a Yankees one.

    Originally, after a Yankees win, Frank Sinatra's "Theme From New York, New York" began playing, and Liza Minelli's cover would play after a Yankees loss. It has since changed to Sinatra's being played no matter the outcome.

    While it is played at other New York stadiums as well, the Yankees are the prominent example.

Dollar Hot Dogs

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    ATLANTA - APRIL 12: A young baseball fan enjoys a hot dog as the Atlanta Braves host the Washington Nationals April 12, 2009 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    If there's one special tradition that puts equal emphasis each on the mind, stomach and pocketbook, it's dollar hot dog night at the stadium.

    I'm not sure where this tradition began, though it seems to be most known as something the Rangers do. In reality, it's a special event several times a year throughout the country.

    The dollar hot dogs themselves are great enough, but what makes them tradition is what goes along with it. Getting one and trying them with different toppings, buying 10 and challenging your friends to an eating contest or even just buying the one and getting right back to the game—all are enjoyable.

Handing Money to Vendors Assembly Line-Style

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    SEATTLE - APRIL 12:  A beer vendor works section 331 during the game between the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners during the Mariners' home opener at Safeco Field on April 12, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    In this day and age, people can be untrustworthy. You keep an eye on others and make sure they don't steal anything from you, and people can be reluctant to help others.

    Yet all that is thrown out the window in baseball.

    Many vendors come by, and whether they're selling peanuts, ice cold beer or popcorn, you shout for it, and all you have to do is pass your money down the row. No matter who your seatmates are, they'll give it to the vendor, who passes your purchase down, and you get it without any problems. You won't find that kind of service anywhere else.

Automatically Bringing Your Glove to a Game

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 28:  A detailed picture of a Texas Rangers hat and glove in the dugout before Game Two of the 2010 MLB World Series against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on October 28, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jaco
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Now that we have the music and food out of the way, let's take our seats at the ballpark. If there's one thing people will bring to the game, it's their baseball glove.

    It doesn't matter if you're sitting at the foul line, behind home plate or in the nosebleed sections—the glove comes to the park. After all, you never know where those foul balls might end up.

Waiting by the Dugout to Get the Inning-Ending Ball

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    Where the man is pointing is usually about where the ball ends up.
    Where the man is pointing is usually about where the ball ends up.Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    This one may not be as familiar unless you've been lucky enough to get premium seats. If you have, then you know what I'm talking about.

    After each half-inning, one of the last ballplayers that comes into the dugout tosses the baseball up into the stands, usually just barely clearing the dugout, and just enough so that any kids nearby can try to grab it for themselves.

    It may not be a foul ball or home run, but it's an amazing souvenir nonetheless.

Booing Players You Recognize on the Scoreboard

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    PHOENIX - APRIL 7:  A field level view of the scoreboard is shown during the first pitch of the Los Angeles Dodgers game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 7, 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    I remember when I was a kid cheering for the Indians. I went to a game in 2000 against the Baltimore Orioles, where I recognized their cleanup hitter immediately; the powerful yet unlikable Albert Belle. Needless to say, all my boos had one target. Kids and adults alike join in on this.

    Yes, people boo opponents all the time; it transcends baseball. What makes this a baseball tradition is that the boos are not directed at the people as they make their way on the field, or when they're playing on the field; they're directed right at the scoreboard as their picture comes up.

Getting a Bobblehead

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    PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 4: A fan holds a bobblehead figure of Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies before a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park June 4, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    The first 10,000 people get a bobblehead as they enter the stadium. Whether it was one of Albert Pujols or Luis Pujols, you wanted to be one of those people that got one.

    It's a great souvenir, and while there are many, many other giveaways over the course of a season, there's something about the bobbleheads that will draw a fan.

    They're fairly popular now, but their heyday was the 1960s, and as a result it's something the older and younger generations can both enjoy.

A Simple Father-Son Afternoon

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    ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Fans of the Texas Rangers watch batting practice prior to the Rangers playing against the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on November 1, 2010 in Arlington, Texas
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Whether it's actually going to the game, watching it on television or listening to it on the radio, a father and son taking in the game together is an amazing tradition that I hope will never die. It's just something that can bring a duo together like little else can.

Throwing an Opponent's Home Run Back

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    CHICAGO - APRIL 17: A Chicago Cubs fan in the left field bleachers throws back a home run ball hit by Ryan Ludwick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 7th inning on April 17, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Cardinals 8-7. (
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Catching a home run from the team you root for is an amazing feeling. It's a souvenir you'd be lucky to get once. Catching a home run from the opposing team, however, feels wrong.

    It is primarily a Cubs tradition to throw the ball back from an opponent's home run, but it does happen nationally as well, especially when the ball is hit by a rival team.

    It may sound silly to a non-baseball fan to throw the souvenir back, but it's tradition to do so, even if you never catch another ball in your life.

Booing Those Dropping a Foul Ball

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 16:  A fan goes after a foul ball in Game One of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs between the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on October 16, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo b
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    As noted, catching a foul ball is just one of many joys awaiting you in a baseball game.

    If someone is going to try to catch one with their glove, though, they better catch it. No letting it fall in the popcorn or bounce off the glove and having it fall back on the field. The boos that result are not hostile, but simple "you messed up" boos.

Keeping Score

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    CHICAG0 - SEPTEMBER 24:  Detail of a fan's scorecard before the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs on September 24, 2002 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.  The Reds shut out the Cubs 1-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    This tradition may have fallen by the wayside but nonetheless has always been a big tradition when going to games.

    Putting in the right numbers and dashes when the batters come up is not the easiest tradition to adopt on here, but it does end up bringing you a lot closer to the game.

Postgame Fireworks

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    DELHI, INDIA - OCTOBER 14: Dancers perform during the finale as fireworks are discharged during the Closing Ceremony for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on October 14, 2010 in Delhi, India.  (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty I
    Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

    Fireworks have become a staple of baseball in various ways. Often, fireworks are shot after a home run. In some other sports, fireworks are used in the pregame festivities. When it comes to baseball, the best fireworks are the postgame fireworks.

    After the field clears and the game wraps up, the fireworks are shot off, and it's a great sight to watch, whether your team won or lost.

The Play-By-Play Announcer

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    MILWAUKEE - OCTOBER 04:  Former major league baseball player Bob Uecker waves to the fans as he walks out to mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Milwaukee Brewers playing against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game three of the NLDS d
    Pool/Getty Images

    No matter what team you root for, each team has its special play-by-play announcer. Only in baseball does that position rise to such prominence. The Phillies had Harry Kalas, the Cubs had Harry Caray, the Brewers had Bob Uecker, etc.

    Each announcer has his idiosyncrasies that you grow up on; it even becomes a way to detect people from your hometown.

Rain Delay Antics

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 13:  Fans wait in the stands during a rain delay in the game between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals on August 13, 2010 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Sometimes the fun of watching a ball game has to wait as a result of rain. If the rain is no more than a drizzle, there's always the tradition of putting on a clear poncho and sitting through the game. If it's bad enough, out comes the tarp and it's a waiting game.

    To pass the time, since delays can last for hours at times, some players will often have fun in the rain, whether it involves sliding on the tarp or other antics. This tradition helps the delay not feel quite as long.

Not Jinxing a No-Hitter or Perfect Game

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    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 09:  Dallas Braden #51 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates after pitching a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays during an MLB game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 9, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Sometimes a game just feels destined to happen, and sometimes a pitcher ends up throwing a no-hitter or perfect game.

    When a pitcher is on this path, one thing others make sure not to do is say anything about it. Announcers tend to say this to the audience at home, which is fine, but nobody says anything to the pitcher for fear of jinxing it.

    Maybe it's superstition, but it's a tradition no one would dare try to break.

Pre At-Bat Rituals

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    ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 29, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    When a player steps up to a batter's box, many have their particular things they do, whether it's when they are in the box or while they're on deck.

    Ichiro's holding out the bat is probably the most famous modern one, but over history there have been many others, such as Nomar Garciaparra's glove adjustments.

    They can be annoying at times, but could we imagine those players without those tweaks? I couldn't.

Entrance Music

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    Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Mitch Wiliams in action.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hixon/ALLSPORT
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    When you think of entrance music, what's the first thing that comes to mind? The answer's likely pro wrestling, but if there's a sport that uses it more often than you may think, it's baseball.

    The most famous example is Charlie Sheen's character Rick Vaughn entering to "Wild Thing" in the movie Major League.

    While closers are the most frequent users, many, many players will use entrance music. Mitch Williams adopted both the nickname and song while playing for the Phillies; Jonathan Papelbon used it for a while as well. Beyond that, Mariano Rivera and Billy Wagner have both used "Enter Sandman."

Pies in the Face

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    NEW YORK - APRIL 19:  New York Mets rookie Ike Davis #29 looks on after receiving a pie in the face after the game against the Chicago Cubs on April 19, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Players from b
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Pies in the face tend to be more player-specific; Trot Nixon was a well-known pier, as is Angel Pagan for the Mets today, as well as A.J. Burnett. After a player hits a walk-off for the win, a player will hit him in the face with a pie during the postgame interview.

    Pieing can go badly, as in the case of Chris Coghlan this past year, but usually it's tradition and harmless fun.

The Team Waiting at Home After a Walk-Off

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    CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 28: The Cincinnati Reds celebrate after Jay Bruce's walk off home run in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Great American Ball Park on September 28, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 3-2 to clinch the NL Centra
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Before a player can even get to the postgame interview to get pied, there's one more obstacle they have to climb: the team circle at home plate.

    Once the player lands on home, they all jump up and down in celebration, and so long as nothing ends up broken, it's great to watch.

Curtain Call

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 04:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees takes a curtain call after hitting the 600th home run of his career in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on August 4, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York Ci
    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    Hitting that key home run is a joy in itself, and when a player does so, applause is natural. However, as things are being set up for the next batter, or even later, often the player will walk back out of the dugout raising his helmet. The applause comes back, and we applaud him again as he does the curtain call.

    Why? Same reason we do it in the theater: to acknowledge what we've seen.

Rally Caps

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    DENVER - JULY 12:  A fan of the Colorado Rockies sports his rally cap as the Rockies came from behind against the Atlanta Braves during MLB action at Coors Field on July 12, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Braves 8-7.  (Photo by Doug Pe
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    When a team is behind and in need of a walk-off or comeback to get to these traditions, there's another that can help them reach that goal: the rally cap.

    You take the cap with the logo of your team and turn it inside-out in hopes that it will bring luck to the team. Silly? Perhaps, but nonetheless we do it in hopes that it will actually help.

Kangaroo Court

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    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 27:  Elena Dementieva of Russia visits Melbourne Zoo during day nine of the 2009 Australian Open on January 27, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)
    Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

    Kangaroo court actually has nothing to do with the above picture. Instead, it is a court created within a team that fines players for silly or elementary offenses. They're not large fines (usually only a dollar) and not for anything serious enough to warrant real fines.

    It's harmless fun, with the money going to charity in the end in some cases.

Managerial Tirades

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    CHICAGO - JULY 21: Manager Lou Piniella #41 of the Chicago Cubs calls for a new pitcher during a game against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field on July 21, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Astros defeated the Cubs 4-3 in 12 innings. (Photo by Jonathan Dan
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Some can be annoying and hard to watch, but nonetheless they are tradition. Umpires are usually quick to eject managers who are mouthing off, but ironically, once that happens, that's when the fireworks really get going. The tirades can involve throwing bases, kicking dirt and whatever the manager comes up with.

    It's fun to watch, even if you'd rather it not happen with your manager.

Walking Around the Mound

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees stands outside the batters box during the ninth inning of Game Six of the ALCS against the Texas Rangers during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 22, 2
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    When players leave the game after three outs to head back into the dugout, there is one obstacle that may get in their way: the pitcher's mound. As a result, the players simply walk around it.

    Walking over it may be quicker, but there is just something about that that makes it wrong. It's one of baseball's unwritten rules.

    Alex Rodriguez came under fire for this not too long ago, and yes, perhaps it was because it was him that it was made into a big deal. Nonetheless, those of us who have played the game and watched it know that it's just something you don't do.

Putting Up K's for Pitchers' Strikeouts

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 07:  Fans put up another K after Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants struck out Eric Hinske #20 of the Atlanta Braves to end the eighth inning of game 1 of the NLDS at AT&T Park on October 7, 2010 in San Francisco, Califor
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Having a starting pitcher you can rely on to strike out batters often is a great feeling for any fan. When he is a strikeout machine, like Roger Clemens or Pedro Martinez back in the day, or Jered Weaver, King Felix or Tim Lincecum now, fans will often hang K's over a wall to count each strikeout.

    Why this is done? I'm not sure. I've never thought to question it; it's just a simple pleasure of being part of the game.

Ballboys and Batboys

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    BRADENTON, FL - MARCH 21: Nine-year-old batboy Darren Baker of the Cincinnati Reds retrieves a bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates March 21, 2008 at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Florida.  Darren is the son of manager Dusty Baker. (Photo by Al Messerschmid
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    When you're a kid, what's the one way you can be a part of the action? That's right: be a batboy.

    It's unfortunately a tradition that can no longer be passed on, as MLB has a minimum age of 14 now. Nonetheless, it is still great for those that are batboys, bringing the bats to players, or those that are ballboys and sit at the foul lines to catch any foul balls so they don't interfere with the game.

    There are, of course, batgirls and ballgirls too. All put together make for a great way to integrate those who would otherwise never be part of the team.

Not Stepping on the Foul Line

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    SEATTLE - MAY 22:  MLB home plate umpire Brian Runge and first base umpire Bill Miller #26 confer near the infield foul line during the game between the San Francisco Giants  and the Seattle Mariners on May 22, 2009 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners de
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    When players come back from the dugout, aside from not stepping on the pitcher's mound, there's one more place they don't step: the foul line. Why? It's just tradition that you don't.

    Pitcher Mel Stottlemyre once did this in 1987, figuring what's the worst that could happen. Here's what happened per The Baseball Almanac:

    "The first batter I faced was Ted Uhlaender, and he hit a line drive off my left shin. It went for a hit. Carew, Oliva and Killebrew followed with extra-base hits. The fifth man hit a single and scored and I was charged with five runs. I haven't stepped on a foul line since."


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    CHICAGO - OCTOBER 4:  A live goat is brought onto the field to 'remove a curse' placed on the Cubs during their last World Series appearence in 1945 before the Atlanta Braves take on the Chicago Cubs during game four of their National League Division Seri
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Oh my, it's been nearly 30 years and our team hasn't gotten back to the playoffs. How could this happen? Ineffective coaching? Rotating GMs with bad plans? Nope, it's gotta be a curse!

    The most famous one is the Curse of the Bambino, which took 86 long years for the Red Sox to break. The Curse of the Billy Goat, preventing the Cubs from winning a title, and the Curse of Rocky Colavito against the Indians are both going strong after over 50 years.

    Even Japanese baseball fans have their own curse: the Curse of Colonel Sanders against the Hanshin Tigers.

Strange Ballparks

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 28:  A statue of baseball legend Willie Mays in Willie Mays Plaza before Game Two of the 2010 MLB World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers at AT&T Park on October 28, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Here's a tradition that, as baseball evolved, has disappeared, but nonetheless made games interesting. When I say strange, I mean that there were ballparks with very ridiculous dimensions.

    For example, League Park, the original home of the Indians, had a 470-foot center field wall and a long left field one as well. The right field well was only 290 feet away though, and as a result a giant fence was put there to stop easy home runs.

    The most famous of the strange ballparks was the Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants. Left and right field were well under 300 feet away from home plate, but center field was 483 feet. The dimensions made things very tough.

    Yes, ballparks may be better now, but I think ballparks have to be asymmetrical. Without it, there would be no Green Monster at Fenway, and no Willie Mays catch in the 1954 World Series.

Designated Hitter

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    SEATTLE - OCTOBER 1:  Designated hitter Edgar Martinez #11 of the Seattle Mariners smiles during practice for the game against the Texas Rangers on October 1 2004 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. Edgar Martinez plans to retire at the end of the sea
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    There is no in-between on this American League tradition: You either think it's amazing or making a mockery of the game.

    In 1973, the American League adopted using the ninth spot in the lineup for a designated hitter instead of a pitcher. Most pitchers can't hit to begin with, so this would add a space for someone who could.

    The National League did not adopt it, taking the side that knowing when to pull your pitcher for a pinch hitter and the like adds a major element of strategy to the game.

    Either way, without it, Edgar Martinez probably wouldn't even be on the Hall of Fame ballot.

When Not to Steal Bases

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    OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Former member of the Oakland Athletics Rickey Henderson looks on against the Texas Rangers during a Major League Baseball game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 24, 2010 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    You're on first, and your team is up 11-2, bottom of the eighth. The pitcher's going for a curve. Do you steal the base? Certainly not.

    Why? Seems like the main reason is bad sportsmanship; it's akin to running up the score in college football. Your team's ahead—no need to humiliate the other one further. That one stolen base isn't going to be the difference in catching Rickey Henderson anyway.

Throwing the Ball Around the Horn After a Strikeout

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    SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 20:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees heads back to the dugout after striking out against the Seattle Mariners as catcher Adam Moore #50 throws the ball back to the pitcher on September 20, 2009 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wa
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    After a batter strikes out, the simple thing may be for the catcher to throw the ball to the pitcher. Instead, he throws it to third, and it's then thrown to second and short before being given back to the pitcher.

    Going "around the horn," as it's called, keeps the infielders ready to go and gives the next batter time to get in the box.

A Pitcher's Revenge

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    SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 27:  Barry Zito #75 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Washington Nationals during an MLB game at AT&T Park on May 27, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    This one is more uncommon, seeing as how beaning a guy is at best frowned upon and at worst will get you suspended. Nonetheless, if a team feels it's called for, it's tradition to do it.

    The best example stems from 2009-2010. In a Giants-Brewers game at the end of the 2009 season, Prince Fielder hit a walk-off home run and did a choreographed dance in celebration. The following season in spring training, Barry Zito hit him on the hip with a pitch. It looked like it just got away, but we all know the truth.

    So long as the player isn't injured, it's a way to keep teams in line.

Interleague Play, or Lack Thereof

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 27:  Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees hits a two-run homerun in the tenth inning as catcher Russell Martin #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on during an interleague at Dodger Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, Cal
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    This is one that can be traditional both ways. The baseball fan in me loves being able to see both leagues play once in a while, with American League pitchers struggling to hit the ball. At the same time, keeping the leagues separated for most of the season just makes the World Series feel that much more special.

    Let's say the Heat and Lakers meet in the NBA Finals. They'll already meet multiple times before that this year; imagine if those games are the only time they face each other.

    It's a tradition only baseball has, and although it's been corroded slightly in recent years, it is nonetheless great.

Jackie Robinson's Number

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    NEW YORK - APRIL 19:  James Russell #40 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the New York Mets on April 19, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Players from both teams are wearing #42 in honor of former p
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    It's only natural that this goes in slide 42 (excluding the introduction). Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947 was not just something big for baseball; it went far, far beyond that. It's only natural that No. 42 is the one retired by all teams.

    So then, why is the man above wearing it? Recently, it's been made so players can wear it for one day, April 15, if they so choose. It's great to see, because seeing that number on someone just creates an aura; it's not something that can fully be explained.


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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 17:  The Phillie Phanatic pumps up the crowd as the Phillies take on the San Francisco Giants in Game Two of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 17, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by C
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Most sports teams have mascots; that's always been a tradition. Yet there are some baseball mascots that become iconic and symbolize baseball and what it means to be a mascot. The two most major examples are the Phillie Phanatic and Mr. Met.

    While mascots in and of themselves embody tradition, sometimes they can make traditions themselves...

Mascot Races

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    MILWAUKEE - JUNE 17:  A view of the Polish sausage, the Italian sausage, the Hot Dog, and the Bratwurst in the famous Sausage Race taken during the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Seattle Mariners on June 17, 2004 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, W
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    At some point during many baseball games, there will be races between mascots unrelated to the team itself, but nonetheless exciting to watch. The Milwaukee Brewers have the Sausage Races that take place in the middle of the sixth inning.

    Beyond that, the Washington Nationals have the Presidents Race in the middle of the fourth inning, where four presidents, typically Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, race much in the same manner. Many other teams have these races as well, though with other characters.

The Many Eras

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    NEW YORK - MAY 02:  The monuments of (L-R) Lou Gehrig, Miller Huggins, and Babe Ruth are seen in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium prior to game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox on May 2, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Most sports have their own versions of these, yet baseball is actually able to pinpoint them not just by who was winning titles and the like, but how everything about the game was played. There was 19th century baseball, where the game was setting up, and there was the dead ball era from 1900 to 1920.

    The first true live ball era came with the emergence of Babe Ruth until World War II erupted (around this time could very well be considered the golden age of baseball). After that period, integration began as the color barrier was broken.

    After 1960, we moved into another era of small ball, then into two divisions, and then in the 1990s, the steroid era hit.

    We look to be on the cusp of a new era, one which will hopefully be baseball's best yet, which is unlikely given our traditions.

Bleacher Creatures

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    NEW YORK - APRIL 16:  A general view of the obstructed view seats in the bleachers as the  Cleveland Indians play the New York Yankees during opening day at the new Yankee Stadium on April 16, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York. This is
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    I, of course, can not forget the fans of the game. Many of the fans actually became part of baseball lore themselves.

    The Bleacher Creatures are Yankees fans who are loyal to the fullest. They'll jeer opposing team members and show what it truly means to be a Yankee fan.

    One of their major gimmicks is the Roll Call, which is something you would have to look up to fully understand and enjoy.


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    Who was Morganna? In short, during the 1970s and 1980s, she was known as the "kissing Bandit."

    It started in 1971 when she ran onto the baseball field and kissed Reds star Pete Rose, and from there she went on to kiss Cal Ripken Jr., Steve Garvey, George Brett, Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan.

    Only in baseball can one look forward to a woman running on the field to kiss an athlete in the middle of the game.

The Superfans

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    NEW YORK - APRIL 13:  Super fan Freddy Sez holds up a sign reading 'Opening Day 2010 Let's Makes It 28!' as the New York Yankees play against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the Yankees home opener at Yankee Stadium on April 13, 2010 in the Bronx
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    The superfan is what makes going to games great.

    Many teams have their various superfans. The Yankees have the late, great Freddy Sez, the Mets had Sign Man and have Cowbell Man, the Indians have John Adams the drummer and even the Tampa Bay Rays have their own superfan heckler in Robert Szasz.

The Rivalries

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    BOSTON - OCTOBER 3:  Jed Lowrie #12 of  the Boston Red Sox rounds the bases after hitting a home run against Joba Chamberlain #62 of the New York Yankees at Fenway Park, October 3, 2010, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    All sports have their rivalries, yet in baseball, they can extend to a whole new level. The Yankees and Red Sox obviously have the largest thanks both to the Curse of the Bambino and the outcome of the 2004 World Series. Other rivalries include the Cardinals and Cubs, Dodgers and Giants and Mets and Phillies.

    All help bring that competitive atmosphere forward and make the game even more enjoyable.

Being America's National Pastime

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    ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Catcher Buster Posey #28 and Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate with their teammates on the field after the Giants won 3-1 against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Bal
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    What could be a better tradition than being America's pastime? Besides being the world's pastime, not much.

    Baseball has been around and remembered for as long as it has for all its tradition that it brings. It's what makes it work even in the face of the modern glow of the NFL, which is likely in its golden age right now, or the high scoring in the NBA. All this is what brings baseball together in America.


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