Don’t Tread on Me!

Main piece:

So, uh… in baseball, there’s a universal superstition that in the way on to the field and off, on defense, it’s customary to step over the white line. Never on the white line! Because if you don’t, it’s believed that your team will lose.


Background information (Why does the informant know or like this piece? Where or who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them?):

Playing baseball. I don’t like it… I have to do it. It’s not about whether you like it or not. It’s about whether you like winning or not. It means the difference between victory and defeat.


Context (When or where would this be performed? Under what circumstance?):

It would be performed on the baseball field. On every baseball field, everywhere. Only during games. The superstition probably came from not wanting to mess up the line. I bet someone was like, “Man, I hope no one steps on this, I just fixed it. Uh… don’t step on this line, or you’ll lose!”


Personal Analysis:

This folk belief was discussed in class as well, so it was interesting to see it revisited outside the confines of a folklore class. The informant had some insightful comments about the origins of the folklore itself, and I must agree that the ritual came to be after a white line on a baseball field was scuffed one too many times. Baseball is one of the most superstitious sports, known for rituals and beliefs that seem outlandish from an outside view but are incredibly coveted by the practitioner. I was lucky the informant was comfortable enough to divulge this ritual with me- most are kept in secrecy, from fear of the act working beneficially for the wrong team.