Of all professional athletes baseball players are by far the weirdest of the bunch when it comes to superstition.
From avoiding stepping on the foul line when going to or from the dugout to ostracizing a pitcher after the sixth inning when he’s got a no-hitter going to lucky shirts, hats and gloves, baseball players have a solid lock on crazy.
Former Red Sox third baseman, Wade Boggs, dubbed the “chicken man” by teammate Jim Rice, ate chicken before every game, woke up at the same time every day, took exactly 117 ground balls in practice, took batting practice at 5:17, and ran sprints at 7:17. He drew the Hebrew word “Chai”, meaning “life” or “living”, in the batter’s box before each at-bat. He asked Fenway Park public address announcer Sherm Feller not to say his uniform number when he introduced him because Boggs once broke out of a slump on a day when Feller forgot to announce his number. Yeah, it gets that weird. Major League Baseball fans are a not too distant second when it comes to quirky rituals.
Now the Red Sox, so sorrowfully out of it in 2012, are embroiled in a bona fide pennant race again this year. The length of the days and the number of games shorten. The pace and pulse quickens. Each game is amplified as the AL East divisional dog fight takes its toll. What is one to do? Get crazy, that’s what.
I was talking with my mother on the phone the other day. She admitted that she sleeps better when the Sox win. Even if she doesn’t sleep through the night, when she wakes she doesn’t have that sinking “oh crap” feeling. She confirmed that my sister has been stricken with the same life long malady. And I thought I was weird.
OK, it’s time for full disclosure. During the Red Sox 2004 World Championship run I wore the same Sox hat (still have it even though it’s falling apart) and set up a shrine of sorts on my living room coffee table that consisted of a Fenway Park book that included a 3-D pop up dead on replica of Fenway Park (yes, it’s totally awesome but sans the Monster seats), a 1918 penny from my father’s coin collection (the last time the Sox had won a World Series before 2004), two “special” Red Sox hats and photo print outs of some classic Sox wins against the Yankees during their impossible run to the championship. I drank Sam Adams Boston Lager during the games. I scored Boston baked beans and ate them heartily. It was manic and ritualistic – and delicious.
So here I am on a Thursday night glued to the television with Boston down 3-2 in the eighth, hoping – nay willing – them to win. They are this season’s Baltimore Orioles with 21 heart-stopping last at bat wins. It doesn’t get more gut wrenching and rewarding.
I’m feeling the itch to break out the pop up book.
Come on, out with it. What’s your crazy Red Sox ritual? The comment field awaits.
Check out The 50 weirdest baseball superstitions in baseball history provided by our friend at The Bleacher Report.