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Sports Then and Now

How Baseball Pre-Game Rituals Have Changed Over the Years

Posted on September 04, 2015 by Jeremy Biberdorf
Baseball players have lots of quirky habits.

Baseball players have lots of quirky habits.

Baseball players and teams are a superstitious bunch of guys. Despite all the advancements in sports science, they continue to indulge in practices that have zero grounding in fact. That’s okay because some of the most decorated players are also obsessed with pregame rituals. Pregame rituals have changed over the years for players and teams, but what has never changed is how strange they are.

Team Gravy Drinking

All the way back in 1894, the Baltimore Orioles won the National League pennant through winning 24 of their 25 games. The entire team drank a glass of turkey gravy the day before every batting practice.

It was both a team building exercise and a way to psyche themselves up for the game. Sadly, the team was found to be cheating by icing the balls and putting soap around the pitcher’s mound.

Touching the Statue

After the time of Babe Ruth, baseball had a gaping hole left behind. Roger Clemens won the World Series twice with his pre-game ritual. Each time the Yankees had a home game he would touch the Babe Ruth statue outside the stadium.

Eating the Right Breakfast

Stan Musial is a legend in the game of baseball. He was elected to the all-star team on twenty-four separate occasions; one of only three players to do it.

His pre-game breakfast during the 1940s onwards was to eat an egg for breakfast, then two pancakes, and finally another egg.

Staying Silent

Cap Anson played his final game for the Chicago White Stockings, who would later go on to become the Cubs, in 1897.

Instead of joining in with his team, he would stay quiet. His relationship with the starting pitcher was particularly interesting because he would never speak to him for any reason. This would even continue throughout the game.

Stinky Underwear

The players and the team aren’t the only ones who have joined in on the pre-game rituals during their careers. Jim Leyland won 1,700 games over 40 years of management. If he won a game, he wouldn’t wash his underwear. This went on until he lost.

In 2011, he won 12 consecutive games. Think about that for a second.

Urine Hitters

Moises Alou and Jorge Posada are two of the most well-known players to have ever picked up a bat. What makes them stand out is their outright refusal to wear gloves. Instead, they would urinate on their hands before a game.

Nobody knows whether this actually worked or not. Urine contains urea, which is found in many moisturizers. Their theory was doing this would help toughen their hands up. Either way, they both went on to have incredible careers in the game.

Fast Pack

The pre-game equipment is a pain to put up and take down. With all those batting cages, pitching screens and tarps it can take ages to put away.

The Tennessee Volunteers college baseball team thought up a novel way to make packing fun. Before a game, they sprint onto the field and aim to take down the equipment as soon as possible. They have cut this ritual down to about thirty seconds.

How Have Rituals Changed Over the Years?

In short, they have not. We constantly see wacky rituals that seem to originate from absolutely nowhere. What links the past and present of baseball is players, teams, and coaches who continue to put their faith into whatever black magic they can come up with. And it’s all part of the reason we love the greatest game in America. What strange pregame rituals have you come across in baseball?

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