Baseball players reflect on their rituals

Camille Kawawa-Beaudan

After 1919, when the Chicago White Sox cheated in the World Series while gambling, the Curse began. For the next 90 years, the Sox never won a World Series until their revolutionary game in 2005 against the Houston Astros.

For years, baseball has been a superstitious sport. According to senior Tyler Peck, if a routine is changed and the game goes well or badly, a new superstition will arise.

“Baseball players are really superstitious,” said Peck. “Because baseball’s so mental, you have to have something to keep yourself mentally in the game, mentally grounded. A lot of times when you’re not doing well, you’re not doing anything physically wrong, you’re just in your head and you’re making yourself play badly.”

According to Peck, having superstitions and a routine during a game can help create a focused mindset for athletes, and can help them cope with a loss.

“If you did something really different, and you did badly, you’re like, ‘Oh that’s got to be the reason,’ because you don’t want to admit that you did badly,” he said.

Peck himself has a certain ritual when preparing for a game. Apart from always putting his left shoe on first – always his left shoe first – Peck carries two one dollar bills in his back pockets while pitching.

“One time I accidentally had a dollar bill in my pocket, and I had a super good game.

Ever since I was in seventh grade, I’ve played with the same two dollar bills in my pockets,” Peck said. “[They] are super old, but I have them in my back pocket every game I’ve played.”

While other individuals on the team carry their own pre-game rituals, the entire team also shares one.

“After we warm up, everyone in the outfield lines up on the third base line and all the infielders, who finish their warm ups at different times, go down the line. We give them high fives, and the line keeps on getting bigger as more people come in, so in the end, the last person to come in gives a high five to everyone on the team,” Peck said.

Senior Nate Flax also has certain rituals that he follows every game.

“Before going up to pitch, I’ll kiss my hat. And then at bat, I’ll draw a smiley face in the dirt,” Flax said.

Written on the back of his hat are the dates of two peoples’ deaths.

“The hat started after Dylan Barry passed away and the team wrote his name on their hats or on their cleats. So when [Alena passed], I wrote her dates on my hat. It felt like something that needed to be done, like some way to recognize her,” said Flax.

Dylan Barry and Alena both died in car accidents. Alena was one of Flax’s first friends as a child. 

While his routine when going up to pitch is to commemorate lost loved ones, his at-bat routine is more uplifting.

“The smiley face came after [seeing] a YouTube video,” Flax explained. “Baseball is a sport where you’re going to get down on yourself, so a smiley face keeps you into it.”

Flax continued to explain that the smiley face reminds him to have fun, be positive, and to remember and preserve some of the innocence and joy of being a child.

According to Flax, superstition in baseball arises from the long season and difficulty of the sport and a need to find a routine.

“There’s so much tradition in the game and it’s such a long season that if something’s working for you, then you’re just going to stick with that,” Flax said. “It doesn’t matter what other people think about it. If it’s weird, it’ll still work.”

According to sophomore Aubrey Sine, pre-game routines or rituals allow players to feel comfortable on the field.

“When I get to the game I want it to feel the same, nothing new. I don’t really like to talk to anybody,” Sine said.

Sine believes that the reason for the many superstitions in the sport is due to the unpredictable nature of the game.

“It is such a hard game to learn. You never know what is going to happen or where the ball is going to go,” Sine said.

As Peck said, “It’s all patterns.”

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The team sits in the dugout listening to their coach.