April 18, 2006

Everyone loves a ritual.: A list of superstitious athletes. There are several funny stories, but Turk Wendell is my favorite: He chewed four pieces of black licorice when he pitched, spit them out after each inning, brushed his teeth in the dugout, and leaped (not stepped) over the baseline (described as a "kangaroo hop"). When he was on the mound, Wendell stood if the catcher was squatting, and squatted if the catcher was standing.

posted by dusted to general at 01:56 PM - 15 comments

Via Deadspin

posted by dusted at 01:58 PM on April 18

His superstition was the need to touch back someone who had just touched him. Like tag during recess in grade school. However doing it when you’re an adult makes you strange. The need to touch someone back was so necessary that if a person somehow eluded his return touch, Rhomberg would send a letter that said, “This constitutes a touch.” Rick Sutcliffe once reached under a bathroom stall to touch Rhomberg on the toe. Not knowing who did it, Rhomberg went around the clubhouse and touched each player. Brook Jacoby once told of tagging Rhomberg with a ball in the minors, then throwing it out of the stadium. Jacoby said that Rhomberg spent two hours looking for the ball before finding it. An umpire once halted play during a game in New York to tell Yankees players to stop touching Rhomberg. Ho...lee...shit, that's funny. Another in a series of very cool posts. Nice, dusted...very nice.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 02:29 PM on April 18

Sparky Anderson stepped (skipped?) over the baseline everytime he came out to the mound. I watched hundreds of games with him managing and I don't think I ever once saw him forget to do it. I think half of Tiger stadium would have had a heart attack if he ever did.

posted by commander cody at 02:30 PM on April 18

And every Tiger fan over the age of 40 remembers Mark "The Bird" Fidrych obsessively grooming the mound before pitching. He'd get down on all fours, smooth the sand and pick at any stray pieces of grass or leaves.

posted by commander cody at 02:36 PM on April 18

and Wade Boggs had to eat chicken before every game

posted by luther70 at 02:54 PM on April 18

Turk Wendell grew up a few towns over from me and became known for his quirks back in Babe Ruth league. His high school buddies always busted his chops and it only got worse from there... Sometimes these things are funny - but where does ritual end and OCD begin? The Rhomberg story is just plain fucked up...

posted by MW12 at 03:10 PM on April 18

Here's an article with Rhomberg at number five on their top ten list. Number seven is my favorite: 7. Patrick Roy, NHL Patrick Roy When he was just a rookie with the Montreal Canadiens, a reporter noticed that Roy seemed to get a lot of favourable bounces and the puck seemed to often hit the goalposts. That's because, Roy said, he talks to his posts during the game. "They are my friends," he said. Roy's superstitions have been well documented because he is arguably the greatest goaltender to play the game. Roy, who holds the NHL record for career wins by a netminder, had a set routine before every game. During the pre-game, he would skate out to the blue-line and stare at the net, envisioning it shrinking. He would also consciously never step on the blue-line or red-line.

posted by wingnut4life at 03:26 PM on April 18

Turk would also go out fishing every morning that he was supposed to start. He would also wave to the center fielder and wouldn't pitch until the center fielder waved back. At least, when he was a Cub he was doing those things.

posted by NoMich at 03:44 PM on April 18

Superstitions Relief pitcher Bill Spellman of the St. Louis Cardinals was notorious for his superstitious ways. When on a hot streak, he would make sure to repeat his daily routine down to the smallest detail, no matter how much it vexed his teammates. After pitching three no-hit innings against the Cubs one June, Spellman reviewed his day’s activities: he had skipped his morning shower; cut himself shaving; eaten a 14 oz. steak for lunch; failed to have a bowel movement; had unprotected sex with a prostitute; and passed out after drinking a fifth of bourbon in his hotel room. Spellman followed that routine exactly for the next week, and although he was not called on to pitch in that time, he did die from an impacted colon. “And good riddance,” said Stan Musial. For some reason, Turk Wendell reminds me of his quote: "If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob. "

posted by BullpenPro at 04:11 PM on April 18

Rhomberg's case is simple. If he's a pro baseball player, he's "eccentric" or has "superstitions". If he's some regular Joe at an office, he's suffering from "obsessive compulsive disorder". If he's walking down the street, he's "crazy homeless man". It's all about perspective... I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Garciaparra's 397-step routine in the batter's box before each pitch.

posted by grum@work at 04:26 PM on April 18

and the batting glove routine... good call.

posted by MW12 at 04:45 PM on April 18

nothing much to say... besides the fact that I enjoyed reading the posted articles and the comments that came with them... Its nice to see the lighter side of the sports world for a change... Props to all

posted by solrac at 04:53 PM on April 18

ahh, but do they work? Is there a mystical talisman that works in ways that modern man no longer understands because we have grown so far from our relationship with the natural world around us? Or, is it that if an athlete does NOT do these things, his/her mind is so occupied worrying about what will happen because of not doing it that he/she tenses up and do not perform up to his'her ability? Or is it just that (ballplayers especially) athletes have waaay too much time on their hands and actually think these things up sitting on the bench during the long hot nights of July and August?

posted by elovrich at 06:45 PM on April 18

It doesn't matter why they work to the person for whom they work. Golfers have them too - most of them really badly. As grum said, most of this behaviour would get your friends trying to convince you to seek professional help if you weren't doing it in a sporting arena.

posted by JJ at 08:15 AM on April 19

A-Rod has his own special ritual, he goes home every post-season series.

posted by INOALOSER at 08:23 AM on April 19

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