Famous Baseball Superstitions

The most observed superstition in baseball is the one that adamantly issues the order that nobody mention the fact that a no-hitter is taking place. It has long been believed that talking about a no-hitter during a no-hitter is as sure a way to jinx the outcome as putting a fastball down the middle of the plate. The superstition may date back further, but the most infamous incident of the no-hitter jinx taking place occurred during what would have been the first no-hitter in World Series history in 1947. The Yankees, of course, were leading 2-1 in the 9th inning of the fourth game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Pitcher Bill Bevens was just one out away from tossing that no-hitter when broadcaster Red Barber made the slip of mentioning the fact that Bevens was just one out away from making World Series history. Suddenly, pop, Cookie Lavagetto not only gets a hit, but the Dodgers go on to win the game!

One pitcher who famously did not give in to the no-hitter superstition was Jim Bunning, former Phillies pitcher and future second-most-conservative man in the United States Senate. In 1964 Bunning tossed a perfect game against, well, the New York Mets (it still counts as an official perfect game regardless) and he quite audaciously flouted the conventions of never speaking or even referring in any way to the fact that he was pitching a no-hitter. He would later explain his actions by asserting that speaking out the perfect game relieved much of the tension.

Baseball players are perhaps the most superstitious of all athletes. This may be in part due to the fact that baseball players have traditionally been the least educated of all athletes. The farm system in baseball made the college route that football and basketball players must go through to make it to the big leagues quite unnecessary. Having been a baseball player in my youth, I can attest to the fact that you don’t hear names like Kant or Ingmar Bergman mentioned in too many dugouts. Superstition is the refuge of the uneducated so it only makes sense that a baseball player like Hippity-Hop Lucchesi. His real name was Frank and he studiously observed his own particular superstition concerning the bad luck of stepping on a foul line or base line. Hippity-Hop provided quite a sight for his teammates and spectators as he often acted like Jerry Lewis hepped up on goofballs in his attempts to avoid stepping on a foul line.

Jim Palmer was infamous for eating pancakes before every game, but the all time king of superstitions was Wade Boggs. In addition to a bizarre diet in which he absolutely had to eat chicken before every game, Boggs also thrilled and entertained his teammates with a series of pre-game warm-up routines that actually began hours before the game even began. Among the rituals that Boggs had to experience before each game was a series of warm-ups that were as choreographed as Pres. Bush’s Mission Accomplished appearance, as well as the necessity of touching every single base and step in the dugout.

Extraordinary, really.