Whatever works

Tyler McIntosh

For baseball players, superstitions often play a role in success and failure

Kent State’s designated hitter is superstitious about putting on his left cleat before his right before every game. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY KATIE ROUPE

Credit: Jason Hall

Last Sunday, sophomore designated hitter Greg Rohan came to bat in the first inning with one out and one on.

After he sent one flying over the fence in left center, one question remained: Would it have happened if he hadn’t put his left cleat on before his right?

Superstitions – almost everybody has one, but baseball players take their lucky charms and routines to the extreme.

“A lot of guys have them,” coach Scott Stricklin said. “I’m still that way. If I eat something on a certain day and we have a good day, I eat the same thing the next day.”

Go to any game and you’ll see many players or coaches avoid stepping on the foul lines. If a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter, not only will his teammates not speak to him, they will keep their distance from him in the dugout.

Seems innocent enough, but it can get a little weird and less sanitary when it comes to individual superstitions.

“I played with a guy who wore the same jockstrap since he was 14 years old,” Stricklin said. “He wore it up into professional baseball.”

Comparatively, Kent State baseball players’ beliefs may seem more timid, but it is hard to argue with the results.

“I know Greg Rohan likes to put on his left spike before his right spike,” senior third baseman Andrew Davis said.

“When you’re struggling, you always try stuff,” he said. “Last week, I tried wearing a wristband. This week, I went without eye-black for two games and started hitting. I guess there might be something to it.”

Whatever Davis and Rohan are doing, it’s working. Rohan was just named Mid-American Conference East Player of the Week and leads the team with eight home runs. Davis had seven hits and six RBIs last weekend.

“What it comes down to,” Stricklin said, “is baseball players firmly believe that if they do something out of the ordinary on one given day and have a good game, they are going to do (something) out of the ordinary again.”

Davis said that for a batter, the most important thing is to stay loose. He said if a particular superstition helps a hitter relax, then so be it.

“There’s really not much going through your head,” Davis said. “You’re just looking for a good pitch to hit. If you get it, take a good swing. You have to be relaxed.”

Superstitions have been around for ages and will be as long as there are players looking for reasons beyond their own skill as to why they are performing a certain way.

“That’s just the way baseball is,” Stricklin said. “It’s funny, but superstitions, just about everybody has them.”

Kent State (20-23, 11-7 MAC) will play Niagara (12-23) at 3 p.m. today at Olga Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.

Contact baseball reporter Tyler McIntosh at [email protected].