We all have rituals we participate in. From washing your hands three times a day to brushing your teeth every night, rituals are a part of human behavior. Rituals calm us down. They make us feel safe. Baseball in particular is chock full of strange rituals, including never touching the foul lines while running to the field and not talking to a pitcher who is throwing a no-hitter. Sometimes we perform these rituals because we feel they give us luck. The following ten examples all share a common feature: they are believed to cause good luck. From the mundane to the bizarre, I give you the craziest pre-game rituals for the game of baseball.
10. Touching Babe Ruth’s Statue
In the world of pre-game rituals for sports, Roger Clemens‘ ritual is tame compared to the others on this list. Clemens, an outstanding pitcher in the game of baseball, won many games in his time on the ball field. Winning the World Series twice, being selected to the All-Star team eleven times, and seven Cy Young wins flesh out just a few of his achievements. In order to achieve this amount of success, Clemens believed in a ritual some would view as religious. Before every home game for the New York Yankees, Clemens would touch the Babe Ruth statue. Babe Ruth’s legacy still resounds throughout baseball, a legacy crafted by skill and time. Other fans may see the statue and take pictures with it. Its obvious Roger sees the statue as more than just a novelty.
9. Eating The Same Breakfast Before Every Game
Twenty-four All Star selections is something unheard of in baseball. The only players to achieve this statistic are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Stan Musial. Along with a slew of other achievements, Musial had a pre-game ritual that is on the simpler side of things. Before caffeine and energy drinks, people actually ate breakfast. While playing from the 1940s through the early 1960s, Stan did what a proud American should do: eat a delicious breakfast to start the day off right. Specifically, Stan would eat the same breakfast before every game he played. Musial would start off with an egg, eat two pancakes, and then finish off his breakfast with another egg. Like most of the rituals on this list, it seemed to work. Stan is now a legend in the game of baseball.
8. Worshipping The Number 33
One of the only rituals on this list involving numbers (surprisingly), Larry Walker captures the number eight spot. If you’re a die-hard Colorado Rockies fan, you know Larry Walker’s jersey number: 33. However, what you may not know is that the number 33 meant more to Larry than you can imagine. In batting practice, Walker would take cuts in multiples of three. During the actual game, he would take three cuts in the batter’s box. Think this is odd? Well, it gets even weirder. Larry even got married on November 3rd at 3:33 pm. Walker seemed to think this number held great prowess. Surely I would too, as Larry batted .366 in his only MVP year in 1997. Who’s to say the power of 33 isn’t real? It’s real to Larry, and that’s all that matters.
7. Refusing to Speak to the Starting Pitcher
When I mention the name Cap Anson, you probably have no idea who I am talking about. That’s ok, considering Anson played his last major league baseball game in 1897. First baseman for the Chicago White Stockings (who later became the Cubs), Cap was a superb hitter. He was the first player to rack up over 3,000 hits. Besides being known for his performance at the plate, Anson was also known for his odd pre-game ritual. Before every game, most teammates carry on conversation with each other. They pump each other up. Anson did the complete opposite of this, specifically when the pitcher was involved. Cap refused to speak with the starting pitcher on his team. He continued doing this throughout the entire game. An odd ritual, indeed.
6. Refusing to Wash Batting Helmet
A seven-time All-Star, Craig Biggio is known for holding many records in major league baseball. He is a 5-time Silver Slugger Award winner and is known for his prowess at the plate. Biggio is also known for engaging in a couple odd behaviors. First, he is second all-time on the “hit by a pitch” list. He is the most hit batsman of the modern era (287). He is also a member of the 3,000 hits club (though not inducted into the Hall of Fame yet). Another interesting fact about Biggio is his pre-game ritual. Rather, it’s a ritual that happens before, during, and after each game. It’s simple: Biggio hit the ball…a lot (over 3,000 hits in his career) and Biggio wanted to keep his momentum at the dish going. So, Craig decided to not wash his helmet…ever. Biggio’s trademark was his dirty and mud-ridden helmet.
5. Rushing to Put Away Pre-Game Equipment
The fifth spot on this list belongs not only to one player, but an entire team. If you’ve ever played baseball in any organizational setting, you know how much of a pain it is to take down all of the pre-game equipment. The batting cage, the tarps, the pitching screen, and the list goes on and on. However, the Tennessee Volunteers college baseball team takes not only pride in putting this equipment away…they do it in a fun and fast fashion. This pre-game ritual pits the entire team against the equipment on the field. The entire team sprints out onto the field and puts all of the equipment away…in about 30 seconds. Truly a one-of-a-kind-pre-game ritual.
4. Shaving Forearms
The name Ron Wright may not ring a bell, even for the most dedicated of baseball fans. In fact, it probably doesn’t ring a bell for anybody. Wright played in just one major league baseball game. Getting a chance to play in the big leagues after successful years in the minor leagues, Ron was placed into a game for the Seattle Mariners. He didn’t do too well…he struck out, grounded into a double play, and grounded into a triple play. Not the most astounding feats. However, Wright had a pre-game ritual that would make you scratch your head. Wright would shave his forearms before every game. Minor league or major league, those forearms would be shaved. It seemed to work for him in the minors. The majors, not so much.
3. Floating Candles in the Bathtub
Rico Carty played in the big leagues from 1963 to 1979. Carty was a monster at the plate, bringing in a career batting average of .299. He even earned the NL Batting Title in 1970. While Rico may have been a great hitter, Carty was also known for his antics outside of the batter’s box. As a big league ball player, Carty was on the road a lot. While traveling from city to city, Rico would stay in numerous hotels. Before every game, Rico would participate in an interesting and bizarre ritual. He would float five candles in the bathtub. Yes, that’s right. He would light candles and let them float in the tub. Bizarre indeed.
2. Wearing a Thong
Jason Giambi has been around the Majors for a long, long time. With almost 20 years under his belt, Jason has played in a lot of games and been in a lot of different situations. Known for his hitting ability more than his defensive prowess, Giambi has posted great numbers in the hitting category. Naturally, as a gifted hitter, Giambi has had his share of hitting slumps. It’s a natural cycle that happens in baseball and it happens to everyone. But, Jason has a solution for his slumps. When things weren’t going right for Giambi, he would resort to wearing a certain piece of clothing. The piece of clothing? A thong. Yep. Not just any thong either. A golden thong. He even has been known to give it to other players when they are in slumps of their own. A golden thong. Wow. How can this ritual be topped?
1. Drinking Gravy
The top spot on this list belongs to an entire squad of baseball players. 1894 turned out to be a great year for the Orioles. They won their first National League Pennant and were red hot during the latter part of the season, winning their last 24 out of 25 games. Many of the players would explain their winning ways not just by sheer talent and skill, but by a ritual the entire team participated in before every game. Early in the morning, while the world was just waking up, the Baltimore Orioles would indulge themselves with a peculiar breakfast. They would chug an entire cup of gravy for breakfast. That’s right. Every player on the team would drink a glass of turkey gravy. Gross or not, 24 out of 25 games and a National League Pennant isn’t too bad of a price to pay for chugging turkey gravy.