As I write this, my beloved Chicago Cubs are not trying to get to the World Series. This is because they played sub-optimally during the regular season and didn’t even make the playoffs. It's a good thing I'm not superstitious or I might begin to think that I jinxed them by not writing enough about them this year.
Thus, to begin building good juju for next year’s team, I declare this IS a Chicago Cubs column. NOT because I'm superstitious. But I can tell ya about some baseball people who are.
Now-retired slugger Jason Giambi would wear a gold thong whenever he was having trouble getting hits. The article mentioning this did not specify where on his body he put a gold thong....but I guess there aren't that many options, are there?
A player named Elliot Johnson always chewed a hunk of grape bubble gum when he was playing defense. When his team was batting, he ditched the grape and replaced it with watermelon-flavored gum. Because, Johnson said, "The hits are in the watermelon gum."
Of course they are.
I read somewhere that ballplayers don't like to talk about being superstitious. They like to talk about "routines" and "things that help me focus." A player named John Baker says "Players are superstitious about being superstitious. If I let you in on my little secret, I might not get a couple of hits." What Baker didn't say, and what would be waaaaay worse, was -- the guy you shared your secret with might get those hits.
Torii Hunter's thing was squeaky clean shoes. Before every contest, he cleaned his shoes with Mr. Bubble spray. He has said this about his shiny footwear: “When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you play good. When you play good, they pay good.”
David Ross, who once played for my beloved Cubs, wore mismatched socks. But they each were “assigned” to a specific foot. He always made sure they were properly aligned because “If we lose a game, I don't want it to be my fault for wearing the wrong socks.”
Outfielder Sam Fuld earned a five star rating for his superstition: He told ESPN that “Five is my favorite number. I can't set my alarm clock unless it's on a five or a multiple of five. I can't put a microwave on any time or heat unless it is five or a multiple of it. I'm a five guy."
I bet Sam Fuld gives great high fives.
A guy named Ryan Zimmerman had a remarkable hitting streak, lasting 30 games, and a teammate of his said that in the middle of the streak, “I went up to him in the shower and said, 'Dude, scoot over, I need some of that water, man.' There are a lot of hits in that shower.”
Thus demonstrating that ballplayers will go wherever the hits are located
Glenn Davis would chew the same gum every day during hitting streaks. Not the same brand of gum. . . the same PIECE of gum! He would save it under his cap after each game.
An infielder from the 1960s, Julio Gotay, is said to have always played with a cheese sandwich in his back pocket. I have no further data on this, but that's one heck of a supersti—I mean, “routine.”
A minor league outfielder named Ron Wright was known for shaving his arms once a week. He was the smoothest hitter in his league, just not the kind of smooth he was striving for.
Another minor league player recalls having a manager who would rattle the bat bin when the team was not hitting well – as if the bats were in a stupor and could be aroused by a good shaking.
It's been reported that a San Francisco Giant infielder named Jim Davenport once hit two home runs in a game. Afterwards, he discovered that he had missed a buttonhole while dressing for the game. For the remainder of his career, he left the same button undone.
Even all-time immortals are prone to strange “routines.” The great Honus Wagner, who was elected to the Hall of Fame, believed any given baseball bat “contained” only 100 hits. Regardless of the quality of the bat, he would get rid of it after getting a 100th hit with it.
I understand he would trade them to guys desperate for hits. In exchange for cheese sandwiches.