Without a doubt, baseball breeds some of the most superstitious athletes in sports, a tradition that can be traced all the way back to 1918. As the story goes, the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees reportedly blighted the Red Sox with the 86-year “Curse of the Bambino,” while the long-running “Curse of the Billy Goat” at Wrigley Field has (supposedly) helped hold off a World Series win for the Chicago Cubs for more than 100 years.
To this day, many players and managers swear by certain rituals that will “help” extend winning streaks, increase productivity, and all in all, provide a certain level of immeasurable comfort outsiders just can’t understand. Many current players boast such traditions, so check out Vivid Seats’ list of some of baseball’s most bizarre rituals.
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza has a long-standing tradition of eating Popeye’s Chicken before every game he’s scheduled to start, while Rangers starter, Derek Holland, has been known to spend a whopping $30 on Wendy’s the night before he takes the mound. The ritual started with an order that included a Baconator, two junior bacon sandwiches, a spicy chicken sandwich, and five chicken nuggets in one sitting. While Holland says the feast routine has waned as of late—due to reasonable concerns of his trainers—the pitcher has steadily built himself up as a vital member of the team, even signing a five-year contract in 2012.
Surely everyone can recall Nomar Garciaparra’s at-bat routine, which used to consist of nearly a minute of adjusting glove straps, touching his helmet bill, and digging his cleats into the dirt. Not all routines are quite so intricate, but there are a handful of notable quirks amongst current players. David Ortiz of the Red Sox preps himself by spitting in his hands and clapping every time he steps up to the batter’s box. Even starting Blue Jays pitcher and avid reader, R.A. Dickey, found a way to connect at the plate—he names his bats after swords in “The Hobbit” and “Beowulf.” Though he doesn’t get as many at-bats now that he’s moved over to the American League, Dickey has a pair of hits in six plate appearances thus far in 2013.
Perhaps one of the most common superstitions across all sports is the ritual of on-field apparel. Detroit Tigers manager, Jim Leyland, became notorious in 2011 for not changing or washing his boxers (and eventually a pair of socks as well) while the team was in the midst of a 12-game winning streak, but fortunately not all the clothing superstitions are quite so unsanitary. San Francisco Giants pitcher, Tim Lincecum, has kept the same hat for each of his MLB games, which paid off with World Series titles in 2010 and 2012. Anytime you see the Minnesota Twins’ Brian Dozier on the field, you may notice he always has something on his left arm, whether it’s a sleeve or a wristband. Dozier has openly admitted the accessory doesn’t do much for his right-handed game, but he hasn’t yet shaken the superstition.
In 2012, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira accidentally grabbed one of his teammate CC Sabathia’s No. 52 socks instead of his own No. 25. That game, Teixeira scored two home runs and earned six RBI to help earn a Yankees “W,” and ever since has been swapping a sock with Sabathia.
Plenty of 2013 MLB tickets remain to see your favorite players indulge in their idiosyncratic superstitions, so be sure to check out our stock for games throughout the rest of the season.