Strange Magic: Superstition and the Houston Astros

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Sep 19, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; MLB umpire Joe West (22) smiles between innings of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Friday the 13th! It’s a time-honored tradition to celebrate superstitions on this date (unless you suffer with Triskaidekaphobia). And what better way to amuse ourselves than with superstition and baseball – a combo that goes hand-in-hand.

Baseball is a funny sport, especially when it comes to superstition. It can range from the relatively mundane to the absolutely bizarre. Truthfully, you’d expect professional athletes to be a little quirky when their high salaries rest on their on field success. Anything they can do to get a mental edge for themselves, or to psyche their opponents out, is generally justified.

From lengthy and absurd pre-pitch routines like Nomar Garciaparra, to eating chicken before every game like Wade Boggs, or to leaping over base paths and chewing licorice between innings like Turk Wendell, we come to love- or be frustrated by- the oddities they embrace.

Here are a few good luck/bad luck practices that go with the territory:

  1. The first rule about a perfect game or no-hitter is that you don’t talk about it. Ever. Just sit back and shut up and let the guy pitch.
  2. The rally cap – fans and players alike wear their head gear sideways or inside out, or any way but right-side out with the brim facing forward in order to get their team to come back from a late inning deficit.
  3. It is bad luck to lend your bat to another player.
  4. It is good luck to spit on your palms before picking up a bat.
  5. There are many ways to bust a slump (ask Jason Giambi) – including sleeping with a bat.

The Houston Astros are no strangers to superstitious happenings. Here’s a look at some of the strangest, funniest, wackiest events to happen to or performed by some of the guys to don the orange and blue. They’re divided into three categories: That’s Interesting, That’s a Bit Strange, and Are You Kidding Me?!

Next: That's Interesting