My informant is Jackson, a 19-year-old male student at USC. Jackson is white and of Danish and Irish descent and grew up in a suburb outside of Los Angeles called Palos Verdes.
Jackson didn’t you say something about a superstitious act you did in baseball?
Jackson: “Ah yes, it’s known as the shark-hats. Basically if you’re down by any runs in the late innings of a baseball game you all get out your shark hats, throw them on just like a shark. On the side with the brim facing straight up”
What was the goal of the shark-hats?
Jackson: “Basically the goal was that the shark-hats would start a rally and we would get hot and get hits and come back from behind”
Would you guys yell anything?
Jackson: “Ohh all we would yell was get out your shark hats right before the inning started and everyone would sit in the dugout with their shark-hats on”
What inning would it mainly start in?
Jackson: “The sixth or seventh but we only played seven innings”
When did it start? When was the first time you experienced the shark-hat?
Jackson: “Probably when I was eleven, just when I was playing baseball”
Do you now who started it?
Jackson: “No it was just something I had seen around my little league so guys before us must have done it too”
Would you find that it worked?
Jackson: “Well when it worked we would say it was because the shark-hats but it probably didn’t work more than it worked”
Does this have any meaning to you?
Jackson: “It just reminds me of my childhood and baseball”
This is an interesting superstition, however not surprising as superstitions are often found in sports, and in my studies especially baseball. The Shark-hat is a form of contagious magic, those in the dugout wearing the shark-hats to send good luck and success to the batter at the moment. When people are losing or down they reach for something supernatural as an aid or guidance to come back and in this case it is the Shark-hat. Although I had never heard of the Shark-hat, I am familiar with a similar form of this call for good luck but we called them rally-caps. Similarly, it would be in the bottom innings of a game when we were down and someone got a hit we would all wear are hats inside out to help spark a rally. Jackson admits to not believing his teams success ever stemmed from the shark-hats and he did not believe they would actually work but he still did them every time and credited the wins to the shark-hats whenever they came along. I think there was also a fear of if he doesn’t wear the shark-hat then he will be the reason they didn’t work. To Jackson it was a silly thing but he still did it every time maybe in hopes it work, maybe in fear of what would happen if he didn’t, or maybe just in the tradition in spirit of baseball.