USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘softball’

Softball Cheers

I interviewed my informant, Vanessa, in the band office lounge. As I prompted her to share any folklore/folk traditions/folk beliefs she knew, she was reminded of the softball cheers she used when she was on her little league team (8-13 year olds). I collected an example from her:


“Down by the river (Down by the river),

Took a little walk (Took a little walk),

Met up with the other team (Met up with the other team),

Had a little talk (Had a little talk),

Pushed them in the river! (Pushed them in the river!),

Hung them up to dry (Hung them up to dry),

We will beat you! (We will beat you!),

Any old time! (Any old time!)

Any, any, any, any, any old time! (Any, any, any, any, any old time!)


My informant learned this cheer from the older girls on her team: “It’s been passed down for — I don’t know how many years!”


She told me this would normally be ‘performed’ by the team members the dugout. They would chant this when one of their team’s players were at bat. This is to distract the fielders of the opposite team. It’s a call and response, so one person says it, and everyone else echos the same thing (The part in parenthesis representing the response of the team members not leading the call).



I never did softball, but I have heard about softball cheers from many of my other girl friends. From my knowledge, they range from complex (which choreographed movements or dance) to simple call and response (like the example documented here). I believe learning the chants from the older girls brings the section together, and allows a “Big-Little” relationship between the players. It also unifies the team against the other in healthy, competitive spirit.


Folk Beliefs

Folk Ritual/Superstition – Los Angeles

Softball Clothes Ritual

While on the softball team, it was customary that, after the team had won a few games, for each individual player to dress in the same clothes and in the same way each game.  We had to wear the same uniform, socks, shoes, underwear, and sports bras (of course all these things could be washed for each game).  For example, I (the informant), would put on underwear and bra first, then yellow compression or sliding shorts, and then put red mesh shorts on over those shorts.  Then I would put on my jersey, right sock first, then left sock.  The right sock was red, “red for right,” and the left sock was yellow, “lellow for left.”  Then I would put my sliders on, right then left.  Then shoes, right then left.  Then she had to braid her hair in pigtails and put one red ribbon and one yellow ribbon on each pigtail.

The informant did this age ten to twelve before softball games.  She believes it to be superstition and thought that dressing the same way each time would bring good luck.  Since they had won dressed in a certain way once, they thought dressing in that same way would help win more games.  According to the informant, her team won the nationals when she was ten, and got second place when she was twelve, so, something must have been working.  The informant went on to explain how she thought the ritual was more of a mental preparation: “As long as you feel like you’re prepared for the game, and you think you’re lucky, then you will make your own luck and play well because you think you’re going to play well.  It might have been a mental thing, but it seemed to work for us.”

I agree with a lot of what my informant thought about the superstition.  Often superstitions act as self-fulfilling prophecies, and this softball ritual for winning is a good example.  Having the ritual probably helped give the team confidence which would help the team play at their best and give it their all.  After winning in the same clothes, with the same ritual several times, it’s clear that the players think the clothes had some kind of power and doing the ritual right would help win games.  However, alternately, the ritual also gives the players something to blame if they do badly.  They could qualify a lose and think, “oh, it’s not my fault, maybe I just accidentally put my left sock on before my right sock, which ruined my luck for the whole game.”  So, the ritual acts both as a confidence booster and a scapegoat, displaying one of many ways in which a person may try to rationalize good and bad things that happen to them.

See Also:

Burger, Jerry M and Lynn, Amy L.  “Superstitious Behavior Among American and Japanese Professional Baseball Players.”  Basic and Applied Social Psychology.  Vol 27.  Issue 1. Page 71.


Folk Song/Cheer – Los Angeles, California

Softball Cheer

Cheer is meant to be said by leader line by line, with the rest of the team repeating after the leader line by line.  It is also supposed to get progressively louder.  Regular text represents the leader, where italicized text represents the rest of the team.

“Icky la Boom Ba, Icky la Boom Ba”

“Icky la Ticky Wicky, Icky la Ticky Wicky”

“Ohfa Toefa Roefa, Ohfa Toefa Roefa”

“Oompa Chi Ahhhh, Oompa Chi Ahhhh”

“Icky la Boom Ba, Icky la Boom Ba”

This was a cheer used during softball games when the informant was age eight to fourteen.  The leader was usually the informant because her sister had introduced the cheer to the team.  This cheer was used to pump up the batter and get the team excited, as well as, to annoy or antagonize the opposing team (hence the repetition and loud volume).  It encouraged their teammates to do well and let them know they were cheering for them.

The cheer seems like almost a special language her team has.  Since the cheer is comprised of rhymes that aren’t even real words, this shows how only her team shares this unique rhyme and brings them together.  The cheer probably reminds the batter that they share this common tie with their team and this familiarity and this bond makes her want to succeed for the sake of not only herself, but for the whole team.