Baseball Players With The All Time Weirdest Superstitions
What feels like the most boring moments of baseball are loaded with superstition. Players step to the plate, adjust their gloves, dig a hole in the batter’s box, take a few practice swings, do the sign of the cross and maybe spit to the side for good measure. For many players, these innocuous moments are steeped in superstition.
And that’s just what they do when they go up to bat, not to mention all the routines and superstitions that go on before the game even starts. We’re talking about extremes like players peeing on their hands to not washing a very important article of clothing.
With that said, let’s play ball!
- 1237 VOTESPhoto: NickBall / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.5
Moises Alou was one of the last hitters to not wear batting gloves to the plate. To avoid crazy callouses, Alou used his own organic method: he urinated on his hands to “toughen them up.”
Surprisingly, there is a bit of science to back his logic. Urine contains urea, which is frequently used in moisturizers to soften skin. Alou played for 17 seasons, and in 1,942 career games, had a batting average of .303 with 2,134 hits, 421 doubles, 332 home runs, and 1,287 runs batted in. His method must have worked but we don't plan to test it.
- Age: 55
- Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
- 2194 VOTESPhoto: Keith Allison / Wikipedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0
A player in a slump will find any way they can to get back on track. Possibly no other player in history went as far as Jason Giambi - or at least they won’t admit it.
A former Yankee and Athletic, Giambi admitted he'll wear a gold thong beneath his uniform when he needs to overcome a slump. Apparently he kept the thing in his locker during his days with the Athletics and brought it with him to New York, where teammates have tried wearing it, too. How does that work while wearing a cup? So many questions.
- Age: 52
- Birthplace: West Covina, California, United States of America
- Bats: Left-handed
- 3179 VOTESPhoto: Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-2.0
Curmudgeonly manager Jim Leyland, who won over 1,700 games in his career, picked up a couple less-than lovely superstitions while managing the Detroit Tigers. First, in 2011 he smoked a cigar at some point during one of the team's winning streaks, and decided to smoke one every day until they lost.
He also started wearing the same baseball socks every day at some point during the streak, along with the same pair of underwear. “I will wear these underwear until we lose,” Leyland said. “I can tell you that right now. And they will not be washed. And I don't give a (expletive) who knows it.”
- Age: 78
- Birthplace: Perrysburg, Ohio
- 4154 VOTESPhoto: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Babe Ruth — "The Bambino" and "The Sultan of Swat" began his 22-year MLB career as an amazing left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but achieved his greatest fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees, ending up with 714 career home runs.
Ruth had a few superstitions up his sleeve, or rather, up his pants. First, he made sure to step on second base whenever he jogged in from right field. He would even run out from the dugout and kick it before the next half-inning began if he forgot. He refused to allow teammates to borrow a bat from him, claiming that every bat had a certain number of hits in it and there was no way he was giving one away to someone else. He also frequently wore women’s silken stockings during time off from the game, believing they prevented batting slumps.
- Age: Dec. at 53 (1895-1948)
- Birthplace: Pigtown, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America
- 5145 VOTES
Turk Wendell's Licorice, Kangaroo Hop, And MorePhoto: Esq1092 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
If there was an award for the most superstitions, that would go to pitcher Turk Wendell, who played between 1999 and 2004. Wendell was never without four pieces of black licorice shoved into his mouth while pitching. After an inning ended, he would jump kangaroo-style over the foul line and into the dugout where he would spit out the licorice and immediately start brush his teeth. Then it would start all over again.
Wendell also wore the claws and teeth of animals that he had personally killed as a good luck charm and insisted that the umpire roll the ball to the mound rather than simply throw it to him. Whenever he began a new inning, Wendell would turn and wave to the center fielder and wait for him to wave back before proceeding, and whenever his catcher stood, Wendell would crouch down. He also wore number 99 in honor of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, Charlie Sheen’s character in the 1989 comedy Major League.
Wendell later signed a three-year, $9,999,999.99 contract with the Mets after telling his agent, "If I could ever get all nines, let's do it."
- Age: 54
- Birthplace: Pittsfield, Massachusetts
- Bats: Left-handed
- 6126 VOTESPhoto: Bowman Gum / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
No, not old haggard women, but actual wooden bats. Center fielder Richie Ashburn was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995, but not before everyone knew about his little secret. He reportedly had a habit of keeping successful baseball bats in bed with him to make sure clubhouse attendants didn’t misplace them. According to Ashburn, he would sleep with the bats in his bed. This prompted him to quip on the air: “I’ve slept with a lot of old bats.”
- Age: Dec. at 70 (1927-1997)
- Birthplace: Tilden, Nebraska, United States of America