Background on informant: Informant is a senior at USC, studying international relations. He is from the Bay Area and lived and studied in Russia for a year.
Informant: My high school baseball team had lucky peanuts. We would only win if my coach bought these specific peanuts for the dugout. I’d recognize the jar but couldn’t tell you what kind they were. They didn’t improve our performance. I’m not sure why we did it. The funny thing is usually 90 percent of them would be eaten by the bench before the first rotation ended so the people who were playing didn’t really eat the peanuts.
Analysis: This belief is interesting because it is not grounded in any specific proof — a winning record, health, etc… — but appears to be deeply held nonetheless. The informant himself concedes that the people who the peanuts were supposed to benefit, ideally the players on the field who have control over their performance, aren’t even the ones eating the peanuts. The belief also sheds light on the broader baseball culture since peanuts are prevalent at professional games. Perhaps the high school players are trying to emulate the professionals, looking up to them in some sense by adopting rituals that are associated with professional games. Moreover, the fact that the informant could recognize the jar but cannot tell you the brand of peanut suggests that he remembers the performance of this ritual, as he would know it if he saw it.