Superstition in the Game of Baseball

Photo by: Mike Moody

Photo by: Mike Moody

Some of the most mysterious things hidden within the game of baseball are superstitions and rituals. Baseball players are known for having their own ways to keep their good play in check, or they try something very odd to get themselves out of a batting slump or a poor direction. This can consist of a one time act, or a ritualistic action based on superstition, that continues for every game played by the player. So what exactly is the definition of superstition? My favorite definition comes from Wiktionary: A belief, not based on human reason or scientific knowledge, that future events may be influenced by one’s behavior in some magical or mystical way. A recent personal example: One of our clients had placed his Annex wood baseball bats in his bed for a good nights rest. He did this the nights before their Championship Title game.

Some of my superstitions have allowed me to get through games unscathed or helped me rocket out of a slump. I always had to wear my wrist bands with one logo up on my left wrist and one logo down on my right wrist. I did that because the first season I tired it, I made little to no errors in the field, and it stuck ever since. After I received the baseball from the third baseman when I was pitching on the mound, I would always turn to my left after getting the baseball, I would never turn right. That was probably my biggest superstition. I could never turn right, in fear that if I did, I would have a poor pitching performance. My baseball superstitions may have been pretty minor, but receiving a unique picture from a client of ours, it actually brightened our day at Annex and it encouraged me to find out some of the superstitions among players playing in the show, MLB. I went and compiled my Top Ten list of the most classic, funniest, and odd baseball superstitions in Major League Baseball.

Before I get to the top ten, I want to touch on two of the more common baseball superstitions that have been around baseball for a very long time.

Most of you have heard about the “Curse of the Great Bambino,” AKA Babe Ruth. It all started when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees after the 1919 baseball season. It is not totally clear why Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, the speculation was that Frazee had to fund his Broadway play “No, No, Nanette.” It was also thought that Ruth wanted a big raise and Frazee would not grant it. This left Frazee to sell Ruth due to their differences. The Red Sox had currently won 5 World Series Titles of the 15 total that were in existence, the Yankees had won none. After the trade the Yankees went on to play in 39 World Series winning 26 of them! Where the Red Sox made the trip to the World Series only four times, losing them all in game seven. The reverse of the curse came finally came in 2004, when Boston won the World Series in historic comeback fashion over the St. Louis Cardinals. The “Curse of the Great Bambino” has been lifted for the Boston Red Sox, but we cannot say the same for this other beloved franchise.

The Chicago Cubs and the curse of the Billy Goat began on October 6, 1945 when the Cubs were in the World Series. Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern across the street from Wrigley Field, brought his goat into the stadium. He did buy a ticket for the goat and they both were allowed to parade the field before the game started. Once the game started he and the goat took their seats. The goat began to annoy fans with an order and antics. They were both asked to leave and the Billy Sianis either verbally or by Telegram told the cubs owner “You are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again. You are never going to win a World Series again because you insulted my goat.” (Gatto, Steve. Da Curse of the Billy Goat. Protar House, LLC.) From that point on the Cubs have displayed losing seasons one after another. One day we hope to see that curse fully lifted and the Cubs onto winning ways!

Annex’s Top 10 Baseball Superstitions

10. Lick Fest

To begin the superstitions, this one I witnessed myself in Junior College. We had a player that would lick the barrel of his bat while he would be walking up to the batters box. It started after he hit a home run by licking his bat to get out of a slump. No matter how much dirt or dust, every time he would lick his bat in fear that we would not preform well. Apparently this is a trend in the MLB too. Below is a picture of Jose Constanza for the Atlanta braves, who is caught leaving some slime on hopefully his own bat.


Photo By:

9. Playoff Beards

Playoff beards have different meanings, but most players start them in route for playoffs to continue success and make it to the World Series. If things go well the beard gets longer and longer, if not you may see a trim or it completely shaved off. Brian Wilson for the Los Angeles Dodgers has a wicked long beard. He is known for his crazy and humerus antics. But his long beard has set a trend and if you asked him, he may say it has helped him win two World Series titles.


Wilson’s Beard. Credit: Lynne Sladky/AP

8. Rally Cap

One of the most classic superstitious actions is the rally cap, the rally cap is the last resort when your team is down in the game. Putting your hat on sideways, inside out, backwards are all ways to help turn your team’s momentum around. If done right it can build confidence and turn your team’s fortune into a promising victory. This superstition is a classic from tee ball all the way to the Major Leagues. And was very much supported in the 2004 Boston Red Sox rally to becoming World Series Champions.

2011 Boston (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

2011 Boston (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

7. Sports Illustrated Cover Curse

The Sports Illustrated cover is an honored recognition, but it may come with a price. Braves third baseman Eddie Matthews was the first person ever to be on the Sports Illustrated cover on August 16, 1954. Once the issue was published the team broke their 9 game winning streak and Eddie broke his hand causing him to miss seven games. April 6, 1987, Joe Carter and Cory Snyder for the Cleveland Indians were headlined on the cover of SI with the caption saying “Indian Uprising,” the Indians went on to go 61-101 that season having the worst record of any team that year. In 1989 Jon Peters of Brenham High School in Texas, surpassed the National High School record with 51-0 win loss record as a pitcher. His next outing after the cover resulted in his only loss in his High School career. To this day many athletes are scared to be put on the cover due to the curse. In some cases it  has been thought to have even ruined careers, if you believe the injuries or bad luck is due to the curse. To check out of the Sports Illustrated curses throughout the years click here, they are quite interesting.

In a 2002 study, it was found that 37.2 percent of the time (913 out of 2,456 covers to that date), something bad happened to the cover subjects. That includes nearly 12 percent that suffered injuries or death.

Study found here: (

Eddie Matthews in Milwaukee August 16, 1954 Credit: Mark Kauffman

Eddie Matthews in Milwaukee August 16, 1954 Credit: Mark Kauffman

 6. Black Licorice and Animal Teeth

Turk Wendell a relief pitcher from 1995-2004 had some very surreal superstitions to keep his head in the game. When Turk was called upon to take the mound, he would make sure to stuff his mouth full of four pieces of licorice. He would then chew on the licorice for the inning. If he had any left when he returned for the dugout he would spit it out brush his teeth and then repeat the process until he was done pitching. Turk also his lucky charms around his neck when he pitched. He would wear a necklace with the teeth of hunted animals he would kill. Turk was very well known for his superstition antics and often shadowed his pitching career.

Black licorice

Photo Credit: Can’t Have Too Many Cards

5. Wade Boggs…Can I get some more chicken! Oh and set your clocks!

Routine, routine, routine! Hall of Famer Wade Boggs took his superstition to heart and it has shown throughout his entire career. Before every game Wade Boggs would eat chicken. Boggs played in 2440 Major League games, we can put an educated guess that he at about a 1/2lb of chicken before each game, that’s 1220lb’s of chicken! Kernel Sanders would be proud! Wade Boggs also woke up at the same time everyday, took batting practice at 5:17 p.m. before every night game, 150 ground balls every warmup,  and would run his sprints at 7:17 p.m. Talk about a schedule, I think it payed off for this Hall of Famer!

Wade Boggs working off his chicken. (AP Photo/Roberto Borea)

Wade Boggs working off his chicken. (AP Photo/Roberto Borea)

4. “Frankie Sweet Music Viola”

Frank Viola was the Ace for the 1987 Twins when they won the World Series. Frank noticed that he had won every game that year when a banner was hung up in the Metr0dome, it read “Frankie Sweet Music Viola.” Frank went as far as reaching out to the owner of the banner and bought him World Series tickets so that he and the banner would be at the games that he pitched. It payed off and Frank ended up being the game 1 and game 7 winner, bringing the World Series Championship to Minnesota.


Levison/Star Tribune

3. Bobo Newsom – Can I get my shoes tied?

Bobo was one of the most superstitious of his era 1929 to 1953. He did not like it when there was any debris around the mound, many players of the opposing team would toss paper near the mound to get him off his game. On the day of that Bobo had to pitch, it was said that he would not tie his own cleats. He would leave them untied until one of his teammates or team workers would tie them for him. I am not sure if that is a superstition or a diva in action.


2. Peeing on your hands…

Now this superstition was preformed by two players that I know of, Moises Alou and Jorge Posada. Since they both did not wear batting gloves, their solution to prevent calluses was to urinate on their hands before games. I think I would just go the batting glove route or lotions, I also believe in pumice.  Thank goodness this did not become a Major League trend, or in any other league, yuck…

1. That thong th thong thong thong

The winner of the #10 Best Superstitious rituals goes to Jason Giambi for his notorious gold thong, which he took with him and kept it in his locker from team to team. Rumor has it that Giambi would bust out his gold thong and wear it when he was in a slump. Apparently it must have worked, because teammates like Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon have reached out to squeeze into Giambi’s thong when they were in a slump of their own.  Jeter has expressed that he has worn Giambi’s gold thong “over my shorts and stuff” and Damon admitted to Giambi’s gold thong, wearing it “probably three times”.



As superstitions can be pejoratively viewed, most guys keep it to themselves, but these were just a few that got out and a few guys are proud of! If you have any baseball superstitions that you know of, or would like to share about yourself, this is your forum.

– Matt Ingle

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