Professional athletes, on the whole, are no stranger to superstitions. Jason Giambi, however, took things a bit further than most Major League Baseball players. While the first baseman and designated hitter showed plenty of offensive prowess during his time in the show, he sometimes sported an unusual piece of attire under his uniform.
In total, Giambi spent 20 years in the MLB, making more than $130 million in the process. He owed at least part of that success to his lucky charm: a golden thong.
Jason Giambi’s Major League Baseball career
During high school, Jason Giambi starred on both the football and baseball teams. While he was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 1989, he decided to head to college instead; on the back of his success at Long Beach State, the Colorado Rockies selected him in the second round of the 1992 draft.
Giambi joined up with the organization and, after spending some time in the minors, made his major league debut in 1995. While he did enough to earn a full-time role as a utility player, Giambi took over the first baseman’s job after the A’s traded Mark McGwire. By the year 2000, he had developed into a star, batting .333, belting 43 home runs, and earning AL MVP honors.
In 2002, however, Giambi left California to sign with the New York Yankees. While he managed to hit 209 homers and draw plenty of walks in the Bronx, his time wasn’t a complete success; the first baseman did claim the AL Comeback Player of the Year award in 2005 but also saw his batting average drop 40 points from his time with the A’s.
When the Yankees declined to pick up Giambi’s option in 2008, he returned to Oakland for the following campaign. He also spent time with the Rockies and Indians before calling it a career in 2015.
Major League Baseball’s most famous thong
When things aren’t going their way, professional athletes are often willing to go to extreme limits to get things moving in the right direction. For Jason Giambi, that meant changing his underwear.
In 2008, the New York Daily News first reported that Giambi would don a golden thong—under his uniform, of course—when he found himself in a slump at the plate. According to an Associated Press report that’s still live on ESPN.com, the first baseman began using the technique during his time in Oakland; he would also let teammates, like Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon, wear the thong in their hour of need.
“When somebody is struggling, it ends up in their locker,” Giambi later explained to Cleveland.com. “Sometimes, it gets them out of it because they don’t want to wear it the next day.”
Nick Swisher, who apparently found success in the 2008 World Series using a thong that Giambi left behind when he left the Yankees, echoed those sentiments. Donning the golden underwear, it seems, forced the batter to focus on something other than their slump.
“I think I heard G talking earlier, and he said it takes your mind off it (the slump) because you know you don’t feel comfortable wearing it,” Swisher said. “I kept telling myself, ‘Am I really wearing this?’ But you know what, buddy, I’ll take the W.”
Jason Giambi made more than $130 million thanks to his golden thong
While it’s tough to draw a straight line between any one factor and a player’s on-field success, it’s safe to assume that Jason Giambi’s golden thong paid off for him.
During his 20 seasons in the pros, Giambi batted .277 with 1,441 RBIs and 440 home runs; barring the latter portion of his career, it seems like he was pretty good at avoiding slumps and hitting for average. That statistical success also helped him make more than $133 million in salary, according to Baseball-Reference.
Based on Jason Giambi’s career, it seems like wearing a golden thong is a key to Major League Baseball success; it was either that or the steroids that he admitted to using.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference