Baseball Uniforms and Superstition

Background information: MD is a 21-year-old student at University of California San Diego. From a young age, he played baseball and was very involved in the sport throughout his childhood and young adult life. According to MD, baseball is a very superstitious sport, and athletes in general can be very superstitious.

MD: Baseball players are very superstitious about what we wear too, like accessories and the way we wear our socks or pants. Like for example, you can change the way you wear your arm sleeves, or wear different batting gloves. Even down to what our hairstyles are might impact the way you play a specific game. And once you find something that works well for you, you’re supposed to wear the same thing every game.

Me: How does what you wear affect how you play? What is the belief related to your clothing? 

MD: Depending on how well we play wearing a specific outfit or accessory, we’ll either make sure to wear the same thing every time, or never wear something again. Like, if I roll my socks all the way up before a game and play really badly, I’ll never wear them like that again. But if I use a certain glove and play really well, I’ll always wear the same glove.

Me: Did you have a specific way you would wear your baseball uniform to make sure you played well? 

MD: Um…I just switched it around pretty often – I would have streaks of playing well with one thing, and then when I felt like I should change it, I would switch it up and see what would happen, and if I would play well or not. We tend to blame the way we play on superstitions like this, instead of our actual, like, athleticism. Instead, we would blame it on how we wear our socks, or something like that (laughs). Baseball players are all about rituals.

MD had quite a few baseball-related superstitions that he could think of, which goes to show just how many pieces of folklore athletes engage in as part of their pre-game rituals. He emphasized the fact that, rather than blaming the way a person plays on their own ability, they often turn to folklore and established beliefs to explain why the game happened a certain way. Folklore acts as a way to explain the unexplainable for many different groups throughout history, so to see that baseball is a very modern example of this was interesting.