By Ray Conner
Superstitions in the world of sports continues to run wild.
It seems every sport that is played, some of the athletes have their own superstitions. These take place even before the action begins.
I learned about superstitions at an early age. Coming from an athletic family and watching sports on television, I would listen to every word that players, coaches and announcers would say.
That’s how I found out about pitchers never stepping on the base line coming on or off the field. Some would go for the dramatic when starting an inning or at the completion of an inning. I remember one pitcher actually stopping on the grass at the base line and hopping, yes hopping with two feet to the grass of the infield. And when he was done pitching he would do it the opposite way. Managers and pitchering coaches also have this quirky superstition.
From the curse of the “Bambino” to the Black Cat Cubs, baseball seems to be the one sport that has the most superstitions. If you don’t know what the curse of the “Bambino” or the Black Cat Cubs, they have this new thingy. It’s called Google where you can look it up and see what they actually were.
Even as a kid growing up, I had my own superstitions. If I was playing particularly well I tried to duplicate everything I did the game before. It didn’t matter if it was baseball, or football season.
When I was playing baseball if I got a hit the game before, I never washed my uniform before the next game. From my socks on up everything was dirty. Of course I only did this three games, regardless, so even that was a superstition.
In football, if I had a good game, I stayed with the non-washing of the uniform superstition. I would also put my gear on the same exact way. I would actually line up my gear the way I was putting it on. It had its own superstitious way.
When I’m at the Blackjack table, if I’m winning and they change dealers, I play one more hand and then move to the table where the dealer moved. If they are going on break, I usually moved to the slot machines.
Superstitions also work in reverse. If, say, I had not played a particularly very good game, I would change something before the next one. That could entail anything from switching batting gloves, changing the undershirt I would wear, or warming up in a different way.
I Googled ‘Superstitions in Sports’ and came up with five really off the wall superstitions that span five different sports.
Baseball: Kevin Rhomberg wasn’t in the big leagues for very long at all. In fact, he wasn’t all that good of a player. The only reason baseball historians ever bring him up is because he was exceptionally weird. Rhomberg never turned right while on the field. If he had to move right, he would spin left. He was the opposite of Derek Zoolander.
Even weirder than his directional impedance was how he behaved when players, coaches, or whomever touched him. He had to touch them back. As an example, if Rhomberg was ever touched while sliding into second, he’d chase the fielder down and touch him back. Every time.
NASCAR: NASCAR has several superstitions, but most notably doesn’t allow peanut shells on the track.
For a relatively new sport, NASCAR sure has a lot of superstition surrounding it.
• There are no green cars since they are considered bad luck.
• No driver carries $50 dollar bills, as they are also considered bad luck.
• There are no peanut shells permitted on the track. Any other peanut product is fine, just no shells are allowed. This is due to crashes that happened decades ago where peanut shells were found in the wrecks of driver who had died.
Hockey: Patrick Roy, a goaltender, had full fledged conversations with his goal posts.
It’s super embarrassing to get caught talking to an inanimate object, but Patrick Roy never had such qualms. The NHL legend has freely admitted that he used to talk to his goal posts during his games. Why? “Because they are my friends,” Roy routinely said. Roy is widely believed to be the best goaltender to have ever laced up a pair of skates, so who’s to say he’s crazy for talking to his posts?
Football: Former Bear, Brian Urlacher eats two chocolate chip cookies before every game. Bears All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher is a finely tuned machine made up of muscle and instincts. And cookies. It would be fair to call him the “Cookie Monster of the Midway.” Eat your heart out, Gatorade.
Tennis: Serena Williams will not change her socks once during a tournament. Tennis is a game that relies heavily on the feet, but Serena asks more out of them than most. Wearing a pair of socks more than once feels incredibly gross, and it isn’t good for the health of your feet even if one does that only when going down the corner store to get an Arnold Palmer. Williams doesn’t mind that feeling. In fact, she really likes it. She will only wear a single pair during any given tournament.
These are quirky I know, but I’ll make a small wager that most any athlete has their own superstitions. And right now if you’ve read this far, then the whole time you were reading your mind was bringing up some of your own superstitions.