USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘baseball’
Gestures
Kinesthetic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Beaver Call

In high school on the baseball team, we had this pregame ritual … and we did this thing and it changes from year to year, um, um, on what it’s called. But, usually it’s called the Beaver Call.

We get in a circle behind the dugout and we do this… well my senior year, we tried to change it to the rat call for this guy, “Rat”, and uh.. there are talks of my brother being in the middle next year and they’d call it the Budde Call (pronounced like booty call).

But basically you just jump up and down like idiots and do this chant.

It goes:

Beaver 1, Beaver All

Let’s all do the Beaver Call

(makes noise with mouth)

Beaver 2, Beaver 3

Let’s all climb the Beaver Tree

(mimes climbing a tree)

Beaver 4, Beaver 5

Let’s all do the Beaver Jive

(dances)

Beaver  6, Beaver 7

Let’s all go to Beaver Heaven

(points up, dances more)

Beaver 8, Beaver 9

Stop! It’s  BEAVER TIME!

(freaks out, dances/jumps crazily)

Was the Beaver your school mascot?

No.

Why did you do this?

Tradition. It was just like every year we did it- it’s a pregame warmup. And it hypes you up for the game.

How long has it been a part of your team?

No idea… well beyond my knowledge.

How do you learn it?

Just from older guys on the team before it. Just Varsity does it. So, sort of yeah, a rite of passage.

 

Context: 

I asked my friend to tell me if he had any baseball rituals because I knew he played in high school. This was the only one he had, but he let me record him doing it while he got ready for a formal event, which I thought was very funny. It was supposed to be a one on one collection, but his roommate, a separate informant, was in the room and interjected that he had also done the Beaver Call except at his camp.

Thoughts:

Sports rituals, especially ones that are only for the Varsity team or older players, also seem to be rites of passage. I wouldn’t be surprised if kids on the JV and freshman teams also know the Beaver Call but know not to do it until they are in that inner group and have the honor to dance about.

Also, it was interesting how perfectly he remembered it and told it without embarrassment.

 

 

 

Humor

Lowest Prices Joke – Father

My informant is a 47 year old psychotherapist from Hermosillo, Sonora, in northern Mexico, who currently resides in Mexico City with his wife (my aunt) and two young sons. He told this joke at a family meal in Mexico, during a very long exchange of jokes among family members.

“Anda un vato de Nabojoa en el supermercado así gateando en el piso todo así *lowers down* y entonces anda en el super aqui y se encuentra con un vato de Guaymas, y que le dice “y que andas haciendo guey” “pos aqui buscando los precios mas bajos!”
Es regionalismo, la gente de Guaymas y Hermosillo se sienten superiores a los de Nabojoa.”
“Donde lo oiste?”
“En el estadio de beisbol, en un juego entre los Naranjeros de Hermosillo y los Mayos de Nabojoa.”

Translation:

“A dude from Nabojoa is at the supermarket like that crawling on the floor all like this” (lowers down) “and then he’s in the supermarket there and he finds himself with a dude from Guaymas, and who tells him ‘and what are you doing man’ ‘well I’m just here looking for the lowest prices!’ It’s regionalism, the people from Guaymas and Hermosillo feel like they’re superior to those from Nabojoa.”

“Where did you hear it?”

“In the baseball stadium, at a game between the Hermosillo Naranjeros and the Nabojoa Mayos.”

I have another take on this joke from my informant’s son, who knows a different version where the guy on the floor is just a son and the guy asking him what he’s doing is a mom instead. I think it makes sense that the younger boy knew this version because of what it has to do with being young and misunderstanding things. His father, on the other hand, associates the joke with a rivalry between his hometown and another Sonoran town, especially since he heard it at a baseball game between his hometown team and the opposing team. So while his son uses the joke to play on his identity as a young person and a son, his father uses it to play on his identity as a person from Hermosillo.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Rally Cap

This informant is my roommate, who grew up in Laguna Hills.  He played baseball up until high school, when he quit to play lacrosse.

Baseball has a ton of superstitions and lots of players do weird shit, like never wash their socks if they are on a winning streak or something, but the “Rally Cap” is known by all players.  It doesn’t matter if you are in Little League or the Majors but if your team is losing and you need a good inning everyone wears their hats upside-down, which is suppose to make your team play better or hit homeruns or something.

I know from my few years in Little League that the rally cap is a very prominent folk belief in baseball regardless of how effective it really is.  While neither my informant nor myself know how it originated, I can guess that it stuck into the baseball culture because of the “hat’s” importance to the sport.  Many people refer to hats as “baseball caps,” regardless of the embroidering on them and hats really aren’t worn in any other sport, making them unique to baseball.  From this perspective it sort of makes sense that a folk belief like this stuck for good.  Altering an item of clothing that embodies baseball seems natural, especially when a hats appearance is so easy to change by flipping it.

Folk Beliefs

How to Make a Baseball Team Win

The informant (my father) grew up in various areas of California, but spent his high school years in Chino, CA and has lived in the Rancho Cucamonga area for most of his adult life. He has been an avid baseball fan for as long as I can remember and sometimes refers going to Angels games as a child and knows a lot of the history behind how the Angels teams has moved around and changed names(from Los Angeles Angels to the California Angels to the Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, etc.) Though we did not go to a lot of games when I was a kid, he listens to most games on the radio or watches them on TV, much to the good-natured annoyance of anyone who wanted to watch or listen to something else.

I asked my father if he had any good luck charms or rituals and he  explained briefly about what he does to make the Angels win, though he noted “it didn’t seem to be helping lately,” as the Angels are not doing very well this season. He said he feels like if he accidentally neglects to listen or watch the games that the Angels will not do as well. It did not seem that watching/listening more was “good luck” but that watching/listening less was “bad luck.” He also drinks out of a special Angels cup gotten from some promotion years ago to help the Angels win. The cup is old, but has a near-permanent place on the kitchen counter in my parents’ house.

Interestingly enough, my dad did not mention any of the things that the Angels fans are known for, like the rally monkey that comes out if they are tied or losing in the 7th inning, or any of the phrases typically associated with the Angels like “bring out the red.” Additionally, there was no special mention of any Angels clothing even though he has multiple Angels t-shirts and baseball caps that he wears regularly throughout the year.  He seems to focus on his attention and specific actions as what is important to helping the Angels succeed. Even though the outcome of the game is not changed by actions and I think he understands this for the most part. The most important part of this idea of good luck is remembering to drink out of his cup and watch/listen to the game. It is more about his attention to them than it is about the action of drinking out of a special cup.

Folk Beliefs
Homeopathic
Magic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Baseball Superstition for Keeping in the Zone

Uh, so baseball players are really superstitious, because it’s a really slow game unlike other sports. And a lot of it’s, like, mental, um, and so uh lots of players are like extremely superstitious so like if they’re hitting very well or the team’s winning, they’ll do like the same pregame rituals before every game. So, uh, if for instance someone’s like in a slump and they’re not doing well for like 6 or 7 games, and the next game he hits a home run or he does really well, uh, he’ll at whatever he ate that morning and he’ll like that superstition of how he did well. And also he’ll, he’ll eat the same meals before games and then uh in his head I would assume he’s attributing that to his better play. Um, and other players will like wear the same socks, or they’ll like won’t wash their Jersey, uh, cause I guess, uh, Baseball’s so streaky that players like attribute lots of their success to like these weird superstitions.
Uh so in baseball, uh, it’s pretty rare that a pitcher throws a no-hitter, it’s—it probably happens two or three times, maybe, a season. But it’s always uh it’ll be prevalent in games a lot and it’ll be broken up by the end, and so uh about like 5 to 6 innings into a baseball game, if a pitcher hasn’t allowed a hit in yet fans and like stat people will kind of like when there’s a no-hitter like possibility, it’s always like a big deal. They’ll like alert, ESPN will alert viewers and stuff, and, um, and during that time no one will talk to the pitcher, there’s just like an unspoken rule that like whenever they haven’t allowed a hit the managers, the pitching coaches, like the numerous coaches won’t talk to him, other players wouldn’t talk to him, and so the pitcher would just be in his zone, he’ll just like walk back and sit in the dugout while he’s waiting, um, yeah.

Baseball players are superstitious, and believe that once one is performing well at the sport, one must not make any changes to one’s routine or endanger themselves to falling out of “the zone.” The belief in and practice of these superstitions make the team closer and identify them as ball players, and baseball is perhaps the most superstitious of the major American sports due to its mental nature. Practicing these superstitions also provides a placebo effect, as the belief that it keeps the players in “the zone,” likely succeeds in helping keep them focused on the game.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Homeopathic
Legends
Magic
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Rally Monkey

Okay, uh, in like, um, in like 2000, so like the 2000, 2001, baseball season, uh, the Los Angeles Angels, who, er, at the time they were the Anaheim Angels, uh, they were losing in a regular season game with the Giants, and, uh, during like the bottom of the 8th inning, uh, one of the, on the Jumbo Tron, one of the graphics people, uh, played a clip from Ace Ventura, the Jim Carrey movie, that had like uh, uh, a foot long monkey running around, and they wrote, uh, “Rally Monkey” on it, and so the crowd that went to the Jumbo Tron, and I guess they kind of laughed about it, and in that inning the Angels came back and won, and so that became a huge phenomenon for like Angels fans and stuff. Even throughout the MLB it was like a iconic thing. It was like the Rally Monkey they would call it. And, uh, it got to the point they would bring, they actually, the Angeles organization actually bought like a monkey, I guess, and they had like a little Angel’s hat, and they’d bring it out, uh, in between innings. And the crowd would go crazy for it, and they started selling, uh, like plush toys of it that people would buy. Like I had one. And, um, so like whenever in the later end, the later innings, when the Angel’s were losing, uh, you’d like swing the monkey around, so you’re in the stadium, there’d be like hundreds—like thousands of people, all just like swinging monkeys around, and yelling, like, “Rally Monkey time!” And in the 2002 season, uh, they ended up winning the World Series, and it was like at the height of like the Rally Monkey era, like they would play it on the Jumbo Tron and it was like there were known for like, “Oh, the Rally Monkey!” stuff. And so they won the World Series and that’s the highest honor you can get, and so that was like a huge part of the season. And, um, after that season the Rally Monkey was around, but they started losing a lot, and now it’s gone forever. And it was kind of like, uh, a 2 season thing that’s gone now.

This is the story of the rise and fall of a sports tradition. The Rally Monkey was a superstitious, homeopathic form of magic, where swinging a plush monkey could bring luck to the players of the Angels. The tradition died after the Angels won the World Series and started losing, and it is now a part of the team’s and the fans’ heritage. Knowing about the Rally Monkey also was a way of creating group identity and community. One had to be initiated into the team fan group to be aware of the superstition, and to understand why Ace Ventura would play at the Angels games. At the time you were not really a fan unless you knew the tradition and participated.

Folk Beliefs
general

Sport Television Crew Folk Belief

“Make eye contact with a midget and its overtime and extra innings.”

 

This folk belief refers to sporting events. At any point during a sports game, if someone working for the television crew makes eye contact with a midget the game will go into overtime or have extra innings.

The informant is a middle aged mother of two boys and works at an elementary school. She heard this folklore from her husband who is a sports cameraman. She learned of this folk belief while they were watching a baseball game that went into extra innings, and the informant’s husband stated that “someone must have looked a midget in the eye.”

The informant laughed at her husband when she learned of this superstition and could not believe that this belief was actually practiced in the sports community. However, she found from her husband that many people in the sports production industry follow this folk belief; although, she does not think that they actually believe if they look a midget in the eye it will affect the length of the game. This folk belief is significant to those in the television coverage industry because they have been preparing for the production of the game throughout the entire day, so by the end of the game, they are tired and want to go home. Thus, they do not want to stay there for extra innings or overtime and are incentivized to not want the length of the game extended.

I found this to be a shocking tradition that is quite rude to a specific class of people for no distinguishable reason. The informant and her husband do not know where the superstition originated and I could not find anything about it online. I also cannot think of a reason why something like this would have originated.

Folk Beliefs
general
Protection

Baseball Superstition

My informant is a pitcher on the baseball team, and he told me that the first game that he started this season he had gotten  a brand new pair of baseball socks from the manager, because the ones he had been wearing had too many holes in them. That night he had a really good game and won. From then on, he says that he has been wearing a new pair of socks every time he has gone out to pitch.

It wasn’t anything he planned on doing, and nobody suggested that he do it. Neither him nor I had ever heard of another instance of a person who did the same thing. There have been instances in sports where players will, for good luck, do things like where the same socks or other articles of clothing, or use the same equipment (like a bat or shoes), while their performance is good. My guess is that he subconsciously feels that by wearing new  socks every time he pitches he is somehow starting fresh, free from the memory of the successes, and failures, of the past.

Folk Beliefs
general
Protection
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Baseball Superstition

My informant gave me an example of a superstition about the foul lines in baseball. He told me that before a
baseball game it is bad luck to step on the foul lines before the game starts. He first learned of the superstition when he
was in little league, and a teammate of his told him not to step on the foul lines. My informant had no idea why it was bad luck, and his teammate was no help because he didn’t know either.
You see, on a baseball field the lines are either painted, or made with chalk. Usually this is done well before the
start of the game. A team will usually start getting ready for a game about three hours prior to the game. They will play
catch down the foul lines in the outfield, (But at no time during the catch play will anyone step on the line), take ground
balls and batting practice. After all this, the field is re-prepared for the game; the dirt is raked and smoothed over, and
new bases are put in, all the while the foul lines stay straight and neat. My guess is that the field of play is very important to a ballplayer, not every field is the same, there can be bad hops in the infield and bad bounces of the walls in the outfield, so to respect it by keeping it in good shape could only be good for a ballplayer, therefore any mistreatment to it would warrant “bad luck”.

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
general
Magic
Proverbs
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Take Care of the Field, and the Field Will Take Care of You.

My informant was my baseball coach  last year, and he used this saying at a time when our team, who was usually very good, wasn’t doing so well. We were uncharacteristically making a lot of errors, and we just couldn’t seem to get the ball to bounce our way when we were hitting. One day after practice my coach noticed that the field and batting cages had not been worked on or cleaned. He brought us all together and annoyed he said, “How about we  get our jobs done and take care of this place. Take care of your field and the field will take care of you. Let’s get some good karma going and turn this thing around.”

This is a saying that my informant likely made up himself. That was the first time I had heard the saying, however, I have recently heard several versions of it, namely, “Be good to the field and the field will be good to you.” While I don’t believe in things like karma, I can see the logic in the statement he made. By taking care of the field, dragging and watering the dirt, making sure there it is smooth and there are no holes or big rocks in it will greatly decrease the chances of a ball hitting a rock or a hole and taking a bad hop, which in turn causes errors. So it’s simple: Take care of the field, and the field will take care of you.

[geolocation]