Baseball is a weird sport. The defender controls the ball. The fields aren’t standardized. The coaching staff wears the same uniforms as the players. And the players—even ones not named Pedro Cerrano—have some truly strange superstitions. If you play ball, you might find that these rituals will help you win games, but probably not. More likely is that you’ll just giggle a little every time Jason Grilli steps up to the pitching mound.
Wade Boggs Boggs was a notoriously superstitious ballplayer. He had to eat chicken before every game. He would only wind sprint and practice batting at 5:17 every day (a.m. or p.m. didn’t matter to the baseball gods, apparently). He also had to leave the house at the same time every day on game day and write “Chaim” (the Hebrew word for “life”) in the dirt at every at bat. Guess it worked.
Larry Walker Walker has an obsession with the number three bordering on OCD. He has to rise at 33 minutes past the hour every day. He always takes practice swings in sets of three. It doesn’t just apply to baseball, either: He got married on November 3 at 3:33.
Justin Morneau You’ve heard of lucky socks, but how about a lucky Slurpee? The formula? Half Mountain Dew, half something red or orange. This superstition isn’t an exact science, apparently.
Roger Clemens When he was playing for the Yankees, Clemens would visit monument park, wipe the sweat off his forehead and touch the Bambino’s plaque. While it won him games it probably won’t win him a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Al Hrabosky The Mad Hungarian had an elaborate ritual that involved walking toward second base, rolling the ball in his hands, then stomping his way back up the mound. It worked, but we’re guessing that had more to do with driving batters bonkers than anything else.
Jason Giambi When a guy hits a slump, he’ll do whatever he can to get out of it. In in the case of Jason Gambini, this means wearing a gold thong. Word on the street is that he’s even got other members of the Yankees doing this.
Jason Grilli Back when he was a Little Leaguer, Jason Grilli wore a two-sided baseball card in his shoe. One side had Ken Griffey, Jr., the other Nolan Ryan. When he pitched, Ryan was face up. On all other days, it was Griffey. He later graduated to eating linguini in clam sauce every time he started.
Turk Wendell This one is just downright primal and probably not even the weirdest thing about a guy who brushed his teeth in the dugout: Wendell liked wearing a necklace made of the teeth from animals he hunted and killed. Not bad.
Reggie Jackson Mr. October had something not too different from the old “lucky socks” trick. He kept the same batting helmet throughout his entire career. When he moved from one team to another, he’d just have it painted to match his uniform.
Satchel Paige Satchel Paige is one of the biggest legends in the history of pro ball, so it’s not surprise that he has a ritual, but this one makes our skin crawl. He had his pitching arm rubbed down with axle grease before a game. He thought it was what he needed to go to the distance. It takes all kinds.