Odd Baseball Superstitions
Most ball players have superstitions--though many will say theirs is just a nervous habit or idiosyncrasy. In any league you'd find players: changing bats after a second strike; refraining from changing bats altogether; or stepping on, or over, foul lines with care (as related to the children's sidewalk rhyme that if you step on a crack you break your mother's back).
Eddie Collins chewed gum during game and stuck it on his hat brim while at bat to insure a hit.
Babe Ruth touched first base as he came in from right field after each defensive inning.
Pitcher Urban Shocker never threw his glove on the grass but on the skinned part of the diamond.
Second baseman Hughie Critz invariably put a pinch of dirt in his pocket after each throw by his team's pitcher.
Once, in the Yankee-Dodger series of 1947, Red barber learned over his radio microphone and told his audience what they already knew: that Yankee right-hander Floyd Bevens was on his way to pitching the fist no-hitter in series history. It's taboo to mention it when a no-hitter is in the works. And this one exploded in the ninth as Cookie Lavagetto hammered a game-winning two-run double. So Barber was deluged with protests from irate fans for putting the jinx on Bevens.
Frankie Frisch's Pirates, red hot in the spring of 1944, suddenly played like old men. And perplexed Frisch consulted the more superstitious club members. Told that earlier "charm" was a man who hung around their training camp and played the harmonica. He promptly hired the geek to bring--like a magic flute--his team through the tough times. But after going winless for three straight days, Frisch gave the old musician his unconditional release.
Connie Mack once employed a hunchback as a mascot to bring good luck.
Finding a hairpin on the street or on the floor meant that a batter would make a safe hit. One season a sportswriter knew that Pepper Martin was superstitious about hairpins and he scattered a few dozen in the lobby of the Cardinal's hotel in Philadelphia. To his surprise, Joe Medwick emerged from the elevator, spotted the hairpins and began retrieving them. The writer rushed over to Medwick and pleaded that those were for Martin. Medwick regarded the reporter disdainfully and said: "The hell with Pepper! I'm finding these pins and they gonna be my base hits. Let Pepper find his own hairpins!"
Some Latino ball players believe that crossed bats are a bad omen. If a bat is tossed and it lands atop another bat, the bat on top will steal hits from the lower bat.
Wade Boggs always ate chicken before a game.
Then there are pre-batting rituals. Cleveland Indians first baseman Mike Hargrove's routine was so long and complex and it slowed the game down so much that he was nicknamed "the human rain delay."
Of course, the ultimate superstitions are performed before the shrine of Jobu:
IT'S ONLY WEIRD IF IT DOESN'T WORK!