Softball Ritual

Informant’s self-description: “Both my parents were born in Canada but both my parents on either my mom or my dads side were born in China or in Wales so I identify pretty equally with both of those cultural backgrounds. Even though I didn’t really get a chance to get to know any of my grandparents because they died when I was very little. So I don’t really know that much of the cultural background from those sides but I would like to explore it sometime. Mostly just Canadian though. Born and raised. Very Canadian. Obnoxiously so.

“I do a lot of sports. I grew up playing – my mom wouldn’t let me. I tried to play hockey but she wouldn’t let me. She told me my brain hadn’t finished growing and I would damage it by falling down skating on the ice. And I could start playing when I was twelve. But the thing is is that by the time you’re twelve, you’re already so far behind on the skating skills that catching up then becomes a mess and its not even worth starting, which she probably knew. So I never played hockey. I played soccer and softball and volleyball growing up and I did gymnastics for a while until my mom made me pick between that and soccer. I chose soccer. I’m also into fandom culture and general nerdiness. I’m in the cinema fraternity at USC. Also a social sorority somehow. I don’t know how that happened. ”

Are there any rituals among your sports things that you took part in and continued?

Softball and baseball are very superstitious sports, not sure how much of that you’re aware of. But some of the general ones including not stepping on the chalk when you’re starting a game – in the on deck circle and the batters box, ‘til the game starts you don’t step on the chalk. And then in tournaments once you slide or get your uniform dirty, it’s lucky dirt – you can’t wash your uniform. Some people take it to the point where they can’t wash their socks either, between days of the tournament. Which is kind of gross. Like after you play five games in one day and then you go to play five games the next day. But usually our team would change the color of the socks we were wearing so that you could wear different ones. ‘Cause they stank.

Did that happen to you where you couldn’t wash your uniform?

I generally subscribe to the belief that it was unlucky to wash my uniform. Yeah, It’s like a lot of smaller rituals. I wouldn’t say there’s a big one but probably the not-washing-the-uniforms is the biggest one.  But also stepping into the batters box the same way each time, like when you’re sitting up in the field – or I used to be a pitcher, so when I was standing up to pitch it would be the exact same motion every time. Which is kind of a muscle-memory comfort thing.

Talk about one of them in particular. Which one did you ascribe the most to?

Aside from not washing the uniform between games, I think the biggest one would be the batters box. [Informant demonstrates] I’d always sort of scrape the dirt up, of the box and sort of make sure I”d have – with my cleats and make sure it was a nice flat surface. And then I would go like – back foot in first, then touch the far side  – the outside of the plate with  the end of the bat. Front foot in, and sort of dig myself in, set up, put my bat out – and get into batting stance. And I would do that every time and then sometimes when I would step  out, I would knock off the dirt between my cleats with my bat. And I would feel weird if I didn’t do it for whatever reason.

Did someone tell you about this ritual? Where did you first hear about it? Do you remember?

Most of the players have a sort of getting-in-the-box ritual that they have, that’s different from player to player. A lot of it is just from watching the national teams play when I was little or watching the professional league – like you’d want to emulate your favorite players. So you’d kind of adopt what they did stepping into the box until it became your own habit, and then you’d adapt them a little bit as you got more comfortable with your own batting style. So I’d say it definitely – from players on team Canada that I would admire growing up. I have no idea where they got it from.

Did you ever talk about that to your teammates?

A couple times. We’d always say like, “yeah I always” or “[Name A] always taps her helmet when she gets in the box.” Or “oh, you always do that when you get in the box.” “Yup, it’s weird if I don’t” A lot of us who took the sport more seriously would discuss our weird little habits on the field that we always do – like [Name B] always spits in her glove, and she has this old batting glove that has holes in it and smells like rancid manure but she doesn’t throw it out because it’s her lucky batting glove, even though it’s mostly just a strap of a glove now ’cause it’s so worn down – like all of the – like the entire palm is gone but she still wears it in her glove. And then [Name C]  always twirls her bat when she steps into the batting box even though it looks kind of dumb. But she can’t stop at this point. It’s definitely something we talk about.

You said you do it as a comfort thing. Does it get you prepared, mentally?

Yes? I’m not sure if the action itself gets me mentally prepared – it’s more like the absence of the action makes me feel unprepared.


Was not able to take video, but the demonstration of the batters box movement was very specific. Informant described each part as they did it.