Part of what makes baseball so great is that even as it evolves, it maintains a rich history with many traditions. With history comes superstition. For whatever reason, MLB fans love to engage in odd traditions to give their team a bit of good luck. Whether they work or not, these superstitions won’t likely go away any time soon. Here are three of baseball’s classic fan superstitions.
Never mention the possibility of winning
Baseball fans hate to “jinx” their team winning. This especially applies to no-hitters. When a pitcher is experiencing a no-hitter, the most die-hard fans won’t bring up the possibility of the pitcher finishing it. They may even curse the announcers for flagrantly mentioning it (they usually start to notice around the fourth or fifth inning).
Fans aren’t the only ones who participate in this one. The next time your favorite team is in the midst of a no-hitter, watch the pitcher in the dugout whenever the camera faces his way. It’s a good bet you won’t see any of the pitcher’s teammates talking to him. Many times baseball players are just as superstitious as fans and don’t want to mess with the pitcher’s vibe.
Don’t believe in it? “Back in June 2012, Jarrod Parker of the Oakland A’s was in the fifth inning of a no-hitter,” explains HowStuffWorks. “Then the Major League Baseball Twitter feed mentioned the no-hitter, and in the eighth inning the Texas Rangers’ Michael Young hit a single.” There’s no way to verify this superstition. But if you attend a no-hitter in progress, don’t bring it up. You may get peanut shells thrown your way.
Wear your rally cap
Another tradition honored by players and fans alike: When a team is losing but starting to mount a comeback, it’s common for players on the bench and fans in the stands to remove their hats, turn them inside out, and put them back on their head. It’s another baseball tradition that may look silly but makes perfect sense to the hardcore fan.
A variation on the rally cap is when players or fans take off their hat, hold it upside down, and shake it to spur on a rally. No advanced statistics exist on the rally cap’s success or failure. No one’s sure when this superstition began. Explanations of its origins vary; some claim it’s the 1985 Mets, others say it’s the 1977 Rangers.
The clubs themselves get in on the fun, creating their own superstitious practices they repeat over and over. Here are some great examples:
- The Los Angeles Angels play a video of a monkey jumping up and down every time they need the fans to cheer harder. It’s become known as the “Rally Monkey.”
- The Los Angeles Dodgers hand out blue towels for fans to wave, not unlike the Pittsburgh Steelers’ terrible towel.
- During the break-in play between the top and bottom of the sixth inning, the New York Yankees grounds crew will sweep the infield to the song “YMCA” by the Village People. It began during the 1996 championship season and has been repeated in each game since.
- Since 1997, the Boston Red Sox play Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” every game during the eighth inning.