Baseball rituals and superstitions on Friday the 13th

A lot of people get anxious on Friday the 13th, in the same way they get anxious around black cats or freak out about a broken mirror. There’s even a name to describe this apprehension of the date: paraskevidekatriaphobia (but don’t ask me to pronounce that).

Anyone who’s ever watched Major League knows that baseball players can be particularly superstitious. And while most ballplayers likely are not offering tributes to a Voodoo shrine, major league players do find more subtle ways to try to draw good fortune to their performance.

Major League (1989)

Some of the most common rituals include kissing religious necklaces, making the sign of the cross, pointing towards the sky after a home run, eating a particular meal before a game, or even not grooming (or, perhaps, grooming a particular way) on game day. When a team is behind, the rally cap has become a popular way among players and fans both to try to help their team rally to victory.

During a winning streak, some players will refuse to wash their hats, helmets, or uniforms — and some fans will do the same. Some players will abstain from sex on game day, or, in the spirit of Bull Durham, during a winning streak. If a particular bat or glove is deemed “lucky,” it will become a popular item among the players of a team.

And, of course, if a no-hitter or a perfect game is in progress, nobody should ever, ever talk about it.

Wade Boggs was known as a particularly superstitious player, even nicknamed the “Chicken Man,” due to his routine of eating copious amounts of chicken every day. According to Boggs:

It started in ’77. I had a Minor League budget and a growing family to feed. Chicken was cheap and I really felt better eating lighter food rather than a lot of heavy meat and gravy. Then I noticed my batting average going up. Ever since I’ve been a `chicketarian.’

Sporting News

In addition, Boggs would write the Hebrew symbol for life, “Chai,” in the batter’s box before every at-bat, and he also made sure to take 117 ground balls (some places report the number was 150) during every practice. Something about Boggs’s routine definitely worked for him, considering his five batting titles, 12 All-Star Games, and induction into the Hall of Fame.

Other famous players with superstitious rituals included Joe DiMaggio, who would always run from the outfield and touch second base before going into the dugout. Pitcher Tim Wakefield would eat a pound of spaghetti before any game he started, and Justin Verlander is said to eat tacos before every start. Mark McGwire used to wear the same cup from his high school playing days — at least, until it was stolen.

There’s not much information specific to Friday the 13th superstitions among baseball players, but no doubt, they exist. When the upcoming date was brought up with Phillies manager Pete Mackanin on Thursday, May 12th, 2016, Mackanin responded, “I wish you didn’t tell me that.”

Quote of the day

In life, so many things are taken for granted, but one thing I can honestly say is that I took every day, enjoyed the game of putting on that uniform and playing the great game of baseball.

~Wade Boggs

Wade Boggs
Wade Boggs, August 1989. (Photo by Chuck Rydlewski/WireImage)

Hall of Fame Simpsons

The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony doesn’t take place until the end of the month, but if you’re Homer Jay Simpson, you’ve already been honored this year.  On May 27, 2017, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum celebrated the 25th anniversary of that iconic Simpsons episode, “Homer At the Bat.”  This Simpsons episode featured the voices of Ken Griffey Jr., Darryl Strawberry, Jose Canseco, as well as other baseball personalities, and first aired February 20,  1992.

As part of the event, Homer Simpson himself was “inducted” into the Baseball Hall of Fame with a little ceremony:

 

Some of Homer’s co-stars in the episode even made a special trip to Cooperstown for the event:

 

Homer HOF
Baseball Hall Twitter

And, as you can see above, Homer even received his own plaque:

Homer plaque

Congratulations, Homer!

 

The longest professional baseball game

The longest game in the history of professional baseball took place in 1981 between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, two teams from the Triple-A International League.  The game lasted 33 innings and went on for a total of 8 hours and 25 minutes.  Played at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the first 32 innings of the contest were played April 18th and 19th.  The final inning of the game was played on June 23, 1981.  Pawtucket won the game, 3–2.

A pair of future Hall of Famers took part in this marathon competition.  Cal Ripken, Jr. batted 2–for–13 while playing third base for Rochester.  (The following year, Ripken would be named Rookie of the Year in the American League.)  Meanwhile, Wade Boggs played third base for Pawtucket, going 4–for–12 with a double and an RBI.

You can find some interesting numbers from the game here, and the official box score can be found here.

milb.com
milb.com