Tag Archives: baseball

Noodles and Ketchup Before Games

Abstract:

This piece is a ritual of eating noodles and ketchup before every baseball game.

Main Piece:

“S: Okay so baseball superstitions, there’s a lot. And even for me personally. When I was younger, before every baseball game since I was probably 9, which is like 8, 9 years of my life after this, the meal I had before was noodles and ketchup.

C: Noodles and ketchup? Is this just you? Like did you choose this?

S: People eat noodles and ketchup. But like to me… it was like a little bit of vinegar and carbs. The carbs to give me energy. So I would have the carbs and that would be great. And I would have that beore every game. My mom would cook that before every game. She is stoked with noodles because she knew… And like three games a week, it was noodles before every game. Even if it was in the morning.

C: Was that like… like did you enjoy eating it? Or was it like something you had to do?

S: No, I enjoyed eating it.

C: I’ve never heard of that before.

S: I never eat it outside of that. It’s like attached to baseball for me. And I ate it so much.

C: Wait, ketchup right?

S: Yeah ketchup, butter, and noodles.

C: I can’t imagine those together.

S: It’s really good. You should try it.”

Context:

The informant is a 20 year old from Arkansas who has played baseball for most of his life. When he started playing baseball at 9 years old, this food custom began and he has eaten this particular meal before every game, for good luck. His mom is the one who first introduced the noodles and ketchup to him.

Analysis:

I think eating noodles and ketchup is more of a good luck charm than anything else. Though it has a link to baseball, it seems that it’s most important role is to bring good luck before the game and eating the meal will insure that in the mind of the informant. It makes me think of the Spanish ritual of eating 12 grapes at the New Years to insure good luck and well being for the coming year. That is the same type of food related tradition of eating something before an event to insure good luck.

Baseball Hats at Baseball Games

What is being performed?
JJ: So if it’s late in the game and your team’s losing. You turn your hat, like, inside out and wear
it on top of your head to bring good luck.
AA: What teams do you do this for?
JJ: Well, I’m pretty sure all of baseball does this but you’re only supposed to do it for the team
you want to win.
AA: Have you ever done it?
JJ: Uh, yeah, at almost every game, actually. It’s a pretty big thing.

Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Where did you learn this trick?
JJ: I’ve been doing this since I was a kid and watching Red Sox games with my dad.
AA: Do you think it works?
JJ: I mean, I don’t know. But it makes you feel better. You feel like there’s still something you
can do and it’s not over yet.
Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
This is usually performed at baseball games or wherever people are watching baseball on TV.
This doesn’t happen in other sports but baseball fans participate.

Reflection
I am not a big baseball fan or big sports fan in general but this is interesting to me. I see this
mostly as a way that baseball fans, who aren’t on the field and have little control over what
happens in the game, get to feel as if they can control the fate of the game. I think it just shows
how serious people are about their sports teams and how much they can identify with a single
team.

The White Foul Line

Baseball is rife with superstitions, my informant is a long-time player and as a pitcher he describes to me the longest-stranding baseball taboo.

“You don’t step on the white foul line when taking the field, ever, not just pitchers, but all players, but especially pitchers. When I go out to the mound I jump over it with my right foot, and always my right foot. It’s bad juju if you step on the line, nobody steps on the line, it just isn’t done. It’s bad luck. It’s always been that way. I don’t know who I learned it from, it’s just always been done as long as I can remember.”

Analysis:

Baseball superstitions, rituals, charms, and taboos usually are surrounding those circumstances which are not totally in the player’s control, that is pitching and hitting usually. This particular superstition is not stepping on the foul line when taking the field. It is quite an old superstition that has no particular origin with a certain player, but one players of all caliber pay attention to. It is supposed to prevent bad luck in a game when one play can change the entire game. Because it is so old and established as a taboo, players simply adhere because all those players before them have done so, so it must work, and the players will do anything that works. One bad pitch or one great hit and the game could turn for the worse. A pitcher can do all he can to play perfectly, but he cannot control the batter’s actions, therefore this leaves a lot of room for superstitions. It is human nature to want to control one’s surroundings and this is just a little taboo that allows a player in his mind to control the outcome however small.

 

Baseball Superstitious Habits

Baseball is an uncertain game, and can change in an instant, so I asked my informant, a long time player, if he had any particular routines that he has never broken, and what this does.

RC: “I don’t know, each time I hit, I go out and readjust each batting glove once, then I hit the plate twice; I do this in-between each pitch. It’s a repeated habit and you don’t want to get out of that habit. If, not, it would get you out of your rythum and get out of your head.”

Me: Do you or anyone ever change these habits?

RC: “Often people change if they want to get out of a funk. So if you are in a slump, and you go pants up all the time or pants down all the time, and if you go into a slump sometimes you change to see if can get you out of a slump, same goes for batting gloves or no batting gloves or pulling out the pocket of your pants. Stuff like that, small changes that can change your entire mind and pull you out of a funk.”

Analysis:

Sports, especially baseball are full of small superstitions such as these. This is most likely because the game is so uncertain, and often out of a single player’s hand, that they will do anything that will boost their luck. Luck is often the center of such superstitions, they will do anything to get luck and avoid poor luck. The game can change in an instant and to players the difference is in the details such as pants or gloves. Because the game is so based on repetitions and routine, any small change is highly noticeable to the player, which is why change to “get out of a funk” is so impactful on their mindset. Knowing that there is a change, and something may come of it, affects a player’s whole mindset. Additionally these routines are assurance that I can play good  in this game despite anything else because before when I have done this, I have done well. There is also comfort in routine and in such a high stress games, these little routines and habits are a comfort to the player.

 

Rally Caps

Me: “So what is the general idea of the rally caps?”

Informant: “Ever since I have played baseball I have known about ‘rally caps.’ Essentially, when playing a baseball game, if a team is down in the later part of the game, it is tradition to wear the baseball caps inside out and/or backwards. I’m not sure exactly why this is but it’s a superstition that is believed from kids all the way up to professional players.”

Me: “Does it matter whether the hat is inside out or backwards or both?”

Informant:”Typically the hats are worn inside out and then if the players want to, they can wear them backwards.”

Me: “Do you have any personal experiences with the rally caps actually working?”

Informant: “Yeah actually when I was a Freshman in high school, we were down by three runs in the bottom of the 7th inning, which is the last inning in high school baseball. We were the last ones at bat because we were playing at home. Realistically, we didn’t think we were going to win but some of us just put our hats on inside out to see if somehow the rally cap could trigger a win. Ironically enough, the first pitch of the inning we hit a home run. From that point on we knew it had to be the rally caps, haha. The next batter grounded out but then the next two batters got hits. Eventually we scored in the runs and won the game. Because we put the rally caps on from the start, our superstition was confirmed.. Well at least for the time being.”

Me:”Do you know where you first heard about the rally caps from?”

Informant:”Honestly I have no idea. It was just one of those things that you know growing up as a baseball player.”

Analysis: Like many other superstitions, this form of Folklore was a superstition that involved an item used within the particular sport. The roots of this lore are unknown but continue to be widely used in all levels of baseball. One can see players with stacks of inside-out caps on their heads during the latter parts of baseball games.

Information of the Informant: The informant is my brother who played baseball up until he was seventeen years old. He is an avid baseball watcher and could essentially state every stat from every player in the MLB.