Two of baseball’s most famous curses have been “lifted”—the Curse of the Bambino, which supposed that Babe Ruth leaving Boston for the Yankees meant the Red Sox would never win a World Series was broken in 2004, while the man with a goat kicked out of Wrigley Field proclaimed the Cubs would never go all the way, was nullified in 2016. Still, there are numerous individual superstitions in the game.
Two different socks
Until his retirement after the 2016 season, first baseman Mark Teixeira wore two different socks when he played. It all started when one of teammate C.C. Sabathia’s socks wound up in his locker (they had similar jersey numbers), and he didn’t notice until after he started playing in a game. After he hit two home-runs and racked up six RBIs in that game, Teixeira decided mismatched socks were his good-luck charms.
An entire chicken
It’s hard to break out of habits that turn into superstitions, especially when the end result is nothing but success. Hall of Famer Wade Boggs had a .328 career batting average and a number of rituals, including eating the same thing before every game—an entire chicken. Then, if it was a night game, he’d take batting practice at precisely 5:17 p.m. Then, when he played in the game itself, he’d approach the batter’s box, and, using his bat, write the Hebrew word chai (it means “life”) into the dirt.
Trevor Hoffman is one of baseball’s best-ever relief pitchers, saving 601 games over his career, which places him second on the all-time list. Nearly all of those came during Hoffman’s 16-year stint with the San Diego Padres. The team’s general manager Kevin Towers couldn’t bear the suspense—every time Hoffman hit the mound late in a game, he’d leave his seat and not watch.
Peeing on your hands
This one is Uncle John’s favorite, for obvious reasons. Moises Alou played from 1990 to 2008, and hit more than 300 home runs and amassed a lifetime batting average of .303. It’s almost as if his superstition of peeing on his own hands before games, supposedly to toughen them up, worked.
The touch back
Not every superstitious player can count on their rituals to be successful, however. Kevin Rhomberg played in a handful of games for the Cleveland Indians in the mid-1980s, which were notable less for his play than his need to touch back any player that touched him. On one occasion, he was tagged out on a play, and then at the end of the inning, went back out on the field to tap the guy who’d gotten him out.