In the piece, one of the questions I always ask is what your biggest superstition is and Anderson’s answer was glaringly different from past Pioneer focuses.
“Eye blacking guys on the team in the order of: Marc Adams, T.J. Rosenberg, Sam Craciun, Bob Suitca, Logan Gray, and then Marc [Adams] puts the eye black on me,” Anderson said in his answer. “I also wear socks under my game pants and I do the same batting routine before every at bat and after each pitch.”
With so much detail, it became pretty clear to me that there was an interesting article to be written.
As a former athlete of the sport for 12 years I forgot how crazy baseball players are with superstitions and routines.
Because you fail more than you succeed in baseball, there is this perception that luck has a lot to do with your successes, and so here I am writing what my top 10 superstitions are in baseball.
#10 After the last out, tossing the ball to the mound
This is part out of courtesy, part superstition. After each half inning is over the person who recorded the last out always tosses the ball to the mound.
It is sort of silly and something as a player you don’t think about a lot, but it is definitely a ritual of the game.
#9 Meeting of the minds
This is another one players don’t give much conscious thought, but during a pivotal moment of a game or when a pitcher is struggling, the whole infield will go to the mound for the pitcher-coach or pitcher-catcher conference.
The funny thing is, most of the time the infielders are just there to be there.
If you ever go to a baseball game, particularly at the higher levels of competition for the sport, one of the quirks you will instantly notice is the music that is played in the stadium or field before each at-bat.
Each player has a specific clip from his favorite song, his theme song of sorts, which must be played to get the batter revved up or focused.
#7 Throwing partner
As a former player, I remember fondly the fact that before each game or practice a huge superstition is having the same throwing partner while warming up.
If you steal someone’s partner it makes for an unhappy and nervous teammate.
#6 The magic bat
Particularly at the lower levels, players will use the same bat.
Because not everyone usually has a bat of his own at the lower levels the idea is that if someone is hitting well with a certain bat then it must be the bat.
So predictably players start mooching off the player and use his bat, because it must be the bat that is getting him all those hits.
#5 Foul line jumping beans
This is a pretty familiar one to anyone who knows the game. Baseball players jumping over the foul line is a superstition as old as time.
The superstition or fear is that messing up the foul line will somehow affect the outcome of the game.
Not all players subscribe to this belief, but for players who do, walking on the chalk is like breaking a mirror.
While this one is a universal superstition for all sports, in baseball there are so many quirks involved with the uniform it is ridiculous.
I remember some of the superstitions involved with attire were eye black and the manner or fashion it has to be put on, wearing the same clothes − underwear and all − if one is successful, having the same number and same wristbands for each game and deciding to go socks up or socks down.
Of course, if play is deteriorating then a ballplayer must change something because the choice of clothing must not be working.
#3 Batting routine
Like the attire this can be subject to change depending on a player’s success but either way every player has a specific batting routine.
Some of the more famous routines at the professional level can be seen through Nomar Garicaparra’s adjusting and tightening his batting gloves furiously or Jim Thome’s bat point to center field.
Routines like these are common at every level and the routine of a player is like his personality and must be done before each at bat or failure is eminent.
#2 Home run celebrations
Here is one common to all levels. After any player hits a home run congratulating him is a must and an everlasting tradition.
At the lower levels, home runs are less common so after each homer the whole team will go out to home plate and congratulate the athlete as if it was a walk-off homer in the majors.
Same thing at the professional level, after each homer a congratulations is in order. Unlike the lower levels, it is done in the comfort of the dugout in the form of the high-five.
#1 Never talk to a pitcher who is throwing a perfect game
Of all the superstitions and traditions listed here this one is the most important and taken the most seriously by ballplayers.
When a pitcher is throwing a perfect game, as a teammate you never say a word to him. It is sacrilegious.
If you do, then the perfect game mojo is ruined and you have doomed him.