Tag Archives: baseball

Baseball Uniforms and Superstition

Background information: MD is a 21-year-old student at University of California San Diego. From a young age, he played baseball and was very involved in the sport throughout his childhood and young adult life. According to MD, baseball is a very superstitious sport, and athletes in general can be very superstitious.

MD: Baseball players are very superstitious about what we wear too, like accessories and the way we wear our socks or pants. Like for example, you can change the way you wear your arm sleeves, or wear different batting gloves. Even down to what our hairstyles are might impact the way you play a specific game. And once you find something that works well for you, you’re supposed to wear the same thing every game.

Me: How does what you wear affect how you play? What is the belief related to your clothing? 

MD: Depending on how well we play wearing a specific outfit or accessory, we’ll either make sure to wear the same thing every time, or never wear something again. Like, if I roll my socks all the way up before a game and play really badly, I’ll never wear them like that again. But if I use a certain glove and play really well, I’ll always wear the same glove.

Me: Did you have a specific way you would wear your baseball uniform to make sure you played well? 

MD: Um…I just switched it around pretty often – I would have streaks of playing well with one thing, and then when I felt like I should change it, I would switch it up and see what would happen, and if I would play well or not. We tend to blame the way we play on superstitions like this, instead of our actual, like, athleticism. Instead, we would blame it on how we wear our socks, or something like that (laughs). Baseball players are all about rituals.

MD had quite a few baseball-related superstitions that he could think of, which goes to show just how many pieces of folklore athletes engage in as part of their pre-game rituals. He emphasized the fact that, rather than blaming the way a person plays on their own ability, they often turn to folklore and established beliefs to explain why the game happened a certain way. Folklore acts as a way to explain the unexplainable for many different groups throughout history, so to see that baseball is a very modern example of this was interesting.

Fresh Chalk Lines on a Baseball Field

Background information: MD is a 21-year-old student at University of California San Diego. From a young age, he played baseball and was very involved in the sport throughout his childhood and young adult life. According to MD, baseball is a very superstitious sport, and athletes in general can be very superstitious.

MD: Before a game, you have to make sure to jump over fresh lines of chalk on the field. I think everyone kind of knows this, like even if you aren’t playing, even people watching know it. If you step on one of the lines, you’re basically throwing away the game.

Me: Why do you think the tradition is so well-known? How did you find out about it?

MD: I know about it because I played baseball for 14 years! I learned it through playing and seeing other players do it. Especially when I would watch older players, they would always jump over fresh chalk lines. I think you catch on mostly through teammates, and baseball traditions tend to last forever. That’s probably why it’s so well-known too, it’s just becomes a rule at some point…um, I think baseball has a lot of traditions that are like that. There’s a lot of ways that you can give your team bad luck before the game, and there’s a lot of things you can do to get good luck too.

Me: Have you ever accidentally stepped on a line, or seen someone do it? Did it affect your game at all?

MD: I’m sure I’ve accidentally messed it up, um, sometime before a game but I don’t know if ever affected our games at all. I don’t think we even think about it once the game starts (laughs). I personally am not very superstitious, but I think it’s fun to get into the game and it’s fun because everyone knows what to do and what not to do. I would say some people are definitely more committed to it, um, than others.

I didn’t play any team sports as a child or teenager, so I know very little about these superstitions and unspoken rules that MD talked about. I think it was interesting that he brought up the fact that baseball traditions tend to last forever, as younger players observe the practices of older players and copy them. By watching older players “perform” these rite uals before a game, they become so commonplace, that even someone who is not superstitious will engage in them for the sake of the game, and for the sake of forming a camaraderie with teammates.

“Sweet Caroline” at a Red Sox Game

Background:
Going to a game at Fenway park is a unique experience. There’s nothing like being surrounded by thousands of devoted Boston fans all with the same mentality of victory or death. There is truly an unmatchable energy at Red Sox games in Fenway park. My stepfather is from Boston so when we go to the games we bring several members of his family with us and we travel as a small gang. One tradition that stands out amongst the lot is that Boston fans will sing Sweet Caroline by Neil diamond after the seventh-inning stretch. The whole crowd will cheer that melody- “SWEET CAR-O-LINE” and so on.

Piece:
Me: “why do we sing this?”
S: “I don’t really know. But I do know it started during my lifetime.”
Me: “what do you mean? Well why do you think?”
S: “about 20 years ago I remember the song coming around and for some reason it stuck so I’ve been singing it ever since.”
Me: “Do you like it?”
S: “I love it.”

Discussion:
Immediately after the conversation I looked up the reason for this song being used at the games and there wasn’t much story to be told. A woman named Amy Toby like the song and she played it during a game and everyone knew it fit perfectly. It started out only been played at random games but then in 2002 it became the official Fenway tradition. I believe that this song resonates well with Boston people because of the emotional impact it has on the crowd. People can get rowdy during baseball games, especially people from New England but, this song has an exciting feeling that is both calming and unifying. This song was even used as a memorial after the Boston marathon bombings. There is no piece of evidence stronger than that to exemplify how important this song is to people of Boston.

Baseball Superstitions

Abstract:

This piece is about superstitions a baseball player had before games in high school.

Main Piece:

“S: One baseball superstition I had was when we were on a hot streak, I would play the same exact songs, in like a 20 or 30 minute ride, I would play the same exact songs. In the same order.

C: Did that get old?

S: No, it was getting me hype because I attached it to baseball.

C: Did the order change every year?

S: Yeah so, every season the songs would change. But during the season it was those songs. Once I got on the field, the songs would change because they would be different songs. I would let it fly.

C: So this was on the bus?

S: No, those would change too if we rode the bus. I would drive myself to games and when I was younger my parents would drive me. There is one song I remember, Kiwi by Maroon 5. If you would talk to my parents today, they would know that song and that I would scream Kiwi on the ride. So yeah, same songs. Another baseball superstition is to not step on the foul line. If you talk to any baseball player they will know that. No one really knows why, just don’t step on the foul line. Because then you’re going to lose. And there are certain things like during the playoffs if we were winning or I was doing really well, I would wear the same outfit.

C: Every game? Or every day?

S: Every game we’d play it’d be the same thing. And you don’t wash your uniforms during the playoffs if you’re doing well. I would even go so far as to wear the same outfit to school the next day.

C: To make sure the luck was there?

S: Yeah I was very a superstitious guy.”

Context:

The informant is a 20 year old from Bentonville Arkansas who has played baseball since he was 9 years old. He continues to play baseball for the USC Club Baseball team.

Analysis:

I think it makes a lot of sense to have superstitions and precautions when preparing for a game in any sport, but it seems like baseball has a lot that you wouldn’t realize unless you played it. I think it is important to have superstitions because they bond people together through this belief. If everyone has the same superstitions, then it becomes something people can be “checked” on too. It creates a team sense of identity and if you don’t follow or believe in the superstitions, it makes you “other.”

Baseball Slang

Abstract:

This piece is about different phrases or words that deal with baseball slang.

Main Piece:

S: The first one I’m going to talk about is like when someone is pitching if they hit the dirt, like if it goes short of the plate, like a low pitch, you call it a worm killer.

C: A worm killer? Why?

S: So baseball is this very mental game, it is more mental than any other game because if you let something affect your mind, you’re going to play worse. Like it is one of those sports, I was actually talking to my boss about it the other day, they’re directly correlated to one another. Your mental and physical performance. And I truly believe that a lot of the slang comes from trying to jab the other players.

C: Get in their head?

S: Yeah, get in their head. I think it is the most mental game out of all the major sports, because it’s all chatter. Like worm killer, you’re going to yell it to make fun of the pitcher for sucking. I say a lot of things like, well I don’t know how you would transcribe this, so when someone is batting and you’re on their team, and the player is batting, you kind of say gibberish almost. Like “um-nam-um-nam-um-nam.” You kind of just keep going. It’s kind of like, the main basis of it is “come on now.” if you can kind of hear it in there. So everyone is just doing that in the dugout like that Spongebob episode.

C: That’s funny.

S: Yeah, so there’s that and there’s “get off me ball.” It’s what you would say if the pitcher hits you, then it’s like check that ball. Make sure it’s okay or the player’s okay. There’s “wear it.” Wear it means like if you’re a batter and a pitch comes into the batter’s box, but you like turn away to get out of the way, your own team will yell wear it. So you can get on first base.

C: If it hits you?

S: No if it doesn’t hit you, but you like get out of the way of the ball. People would say “wear it” like you should have gotten hit. Which is obviously kind of hard, like you don’t want to sacrifice your body, but you know there’s that. Another thing we’ve been screaming is “Is he a diamond back because he’s rattled.” So if the opposing pitcher is pitching and we are getting hits on him.

C: So he’s doing bad?

S: Yeah so “is he a diamond back because he’s rattled” like rattled would mean he’s all screwed up in the mind. That means we really got to him. These are the funny ones. I mean there’s actual baseball lingo that is kind of serious. Like “dinger” means homerun.

Context:

The informant is a 20 year old student from Bentonville, Arkansas. He has played baseball since he was 9 years old and continues to play on the USC Club Baseball team. He has picked up this lingo and slang from years of playing on different teams and learning about the customs.

Analysis:

I think the informant was right about the purpose of this particular slang. Baseball seems to be all about what goes on behind the scenes, this slang included. Getting into a player’s head seems to be key in how well you play as well. I think one aspect of this slang that was not touched on in this piece was how it affects your own head. The informant described how to get into other players heads, but it would be interesting to learn if there were methods players took to block out distractions.