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Superstitions In Baseball And Among Its Fans

   Earlier this year I wrote about my best Opening Day experience ever, but I forgot to include a part of that day that has stuck with me well past March 31st. Entering the bottom of the 9th inning the Reds trailed the Brewers 6-3 but everyone (okay not everyone, not even everyone who hadn't run for the exits at the end of the 7th) had some hope since the Reds would run the best they had up there in BP, Votto, & Rolen.

   We stood, we cheered, we waved the rally towels the Reds had so graciously given us at the gate. After BP singled and Votto walked, Scotty Rolen reached and the bags were full. Jay Bruce then struck out and I realized something. During Bruce's at bat I had been waving my rally towel in a counterclockwise motion instead of my regular clockwise motion (keep in mind I'm left handed). I switched back immediately and when Jonny Gomes hit a sac fly to score BP I was validated and continued waving my rally towel in the proper way, which of course led directly to this:



   Am I crazy for thinking that the way I waved my towel in the upper deck had any bearing whatsoever on the outcome of that game? Wait, don't answer that.

   I laugh when I think about my own insanity but I refuse to believe I'm the only one with wild superstitions. More voodoo witchcraft after the jump.

    All sports have superstitions of course, from hockey playoff beards to free throw routines to soccer players not having sex before a match(leave it to soccer) but I don't think any sport is as superstitious as baseball. Curses, batting rituals, animal sacrifice, you name it. Let's get started.Various curses and descriptions:

The Curse Of The Bambino -I think we can put this one to bed.

The Curse of The Billy Goat - 66 years later, still going strong!

Never, ever mention a no-hitter or perfect game when it's your guy throwing it. A variation on this is that the pitcher is eesentially shunned when he comes in the dugout, lest his teammates bring bad luck upon him by socializing with him whatsoever.

Never step on the foul line. Duh.

There are a ton of crazy pitchers so here are just a handful - Turk Wendell, Mark Fidrych, Roger Clemens (touching the Babe Ruth statue, naming all his kids K names)

Wade Boggs was quite the character. From Wikipedia:

He ate chicken before every game (Jim Rice once called Boggs "chicken man"), woke up at the same time every day, took exactly 100 ground balls in practice, took batting practice at 5:17, and ran sprints at 7:17. His route to and from his position in the field beat a path to the home dugout. He drew the Hebrew word "Chai", meaning "life", in the batter's box before each at-bat, though he is not Jewish.

Moises Alou and the urine instead of batting gloves bit.

The insanity that was Jason Giambi and his golden thong.

Mark Grace on slumpbusting was an instant classic:

"A slumpbuster is when you have to take one for the team. It's finding the biggest, nastiest, fattest broad, and you put the wood to her to come out of your slump. Also known as 'jumping on a grenade for the team'."

And of course who could forget Sean Casey and his at bat routine?


A couple of interesting stories I had never heard before:

Back in 1984, Minnesota Twins pitcher Frank Viola noticed a large banner at the Metrodome that said "FRANKIE SWEET MUSIC VIOLA." He also noticed that whenever the banner appeared, he seemed to pitch well, and, in fact, never lost. According to Sports Illustrated, the banner's creator, a fan named Mark Dornfield, introduced himself to Viola in 1987, and the two talked for two hours. That season, Viola went 15-0, with four no-decisions (all Twins victories) in banner games.

The Twins made the World Series that season, and Viola learned that Dornfield didn't have a ticket. That prompted Kathy Viola, Frank's wife, to call Dornfield up and offer him tickets to Games 1 and 7. As SI reported, "With the banner proudly unfurled, Viola won both games and was named Series MVP."

In the minor leagues, Ron Wright
shaved his forearms after an injury forced him to wear bandages. He hit so well with freshly shaved arms that he continued the practice even after the injuries healed. After eight seasons in the minors, Wright finally earned a look with the Seattle Mariners in 2002. On August 13, he had one of the strangest days ever by a big league hitter, when he grounded out, grounded into a double play, and grounded into a triple play in the same game. Three at-bats, six outs. Wright was shipped back to the minors a few days later and never returned. His arms are still reportedly smooth and kissable.


Larry Walker: Former Expos/Rockies/Cardinals outfielder Larry Walker was known for being a five-tool player. But if it were up to him, he would probably rather be known as a three-tool player. That’s because Walker has a serious obsession with the number three. He sets his alarm for 33 minutes past the hour, takes practice swings in multiples of three, wears No. 33, was married on November 3 at 3:33 p.m., and bought tickets for 33 disadvantaged kids when he played in Montreal (to be seated in Section 333 at Olympic Stadium.)

"For some people, it might be a superstition," Walker told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel in 1997. "For me, it's an obsession."

Kevin Rhomberg played just 41 games in parts of three seasons with the Tribe from 1982-84. But in that short span, the outfielder managed to assert himself as possibly the big leagues’ most superstitious player ever. Rhomberg’s most peculiar superstition was that if someone touched him, he had to touch that person back. Although this compulsion was not as much of a liability as it might have been in basketball or football, it still led to some odd situations: if Rhomberg were tagged out while running the bases, he’d wait until the defense was clearing the field at inning’s end to chase down the player who’d touched him. Rhomberg also refused to make right turns while on the field, because baserunners are always turning left. So if a situation forced him to make a right turn, he’d go to his left and make a full circle to get moving in the correct direction.



   My personal quirks included making an X in the dirt when playing 1B, always wearing a doubles number (22, 44), and tapping the plate twice with my bat (first on the outer front corner then the inner front corner). As a fan, I have a good feeling about certain shirts/jerseys/caps as opposed to others and God as my witness one of my Reds good luck charms when watching from home is to use a plastic cup I got from a UK football game. Me. Drinking from a UK cup. Sports makes you do crazy things.

  What are some of your favorite superstition stories or alternately what are some of the odd behaviors you exhibit as a fan in the name of good luck?