Don’t Step On The Foul Line


The following is an explanation of a contagious folk-magic that took place with my friend’s high school varsity baseball team. My friend played baseball from freshman to junior year, playing varsity his junior year. He now goes to college out of state so I had to call him to get him to tell me the tradition that they had. This is a direct transcribed script of what was said in the story, with the various “umm’s” and “uhh’s” omitted.


“Do I have to explain how I played baseball again? *I shake my head*. Okay. So another thing that we (his varsity baseball team) had was that we would never step on the foul line. And I mean like never. A lot of people might know of that little superstition that pitchers have where they jump over the line when they’re going out to pitch. I guess it would bring bad luck or something. But our team took it to another level. During stretches you better not step on the line. It didn’t matter if it was a practice or a game. Don’t step on the line. When we would play catch you weren’t supposed to step on the line. That kind of evolved into not straddling the line either. Probably because it was really easy to forget and step on it. So you either chose in front or behind the line. Most went behind because you had more room to work with…

I don’t usually believe in superstitions but I swear when kids would not care and just go and step all over the line we would lose games. Course, it might’ve just been made by the coaches so we didn’t tear up the paint on the lines… you know, metal cleats and all. But ya, our team was real superstitious about that and all the new freshmen caught on to it.”


This superstition that my friend’s baseball team had is an excellent example of contagious folk-magic. I’m guessing at some point, the team was walking all over the line and then they had a bad game. Now, the line is cursed or something, and stepping on it brings the same bad luck. Of course, it is possible that the team just adapted the classic pitchers jump over the line before going to the mound. The same thing is probably the origin of that too though. Hearing this from my friend was interesting because I always knew about superstitions like that, but didn’t know people still believed in them. I’m curious as to what other superstitions that team might have, as well as other superstitions around sports in general.