4 Oct

Baseball history is rife with stories of superstitions, “hoodoo” and all manner of irrational beliefs meant to improve performance and win games.

George Mullin who won more than 200 games in the first two decades of the 20th century, primarily with the Detroit Tigers, was well known to seek things to bring him luck and avoid “hoodoo.”

It’s a fairly well-known story that Mullin was one of the Tiger players who believed that team mascot Ulysses Harrison, an orphaned African-American child taken in by Ty Cobb and called “Lil Rastus,” brought him luck.  After Harrison was dismissed as Tiger mascot Mullin was one of the players instrumental in bringing the youth back for the 1909 season, and on at least one occasion “kidnapped” Harrison from Cobb’s room and had him stay in his in order bring him luck on the mound the following day.

Surely Mullin’s 29-8 record in 1909 helped to cement his belief in “luck.”

Tiger mascot Ulysses Harrison with pitcher George Mullin

Another of Mullin’s superstitions is less well known.

According to the Fort Wayne News Mullin was convinced that “For a pitcher to have his mug taken after twirling a winner means a defeat sure in the next game.”

Mullin had very particular rules for having his photo taken:

“If one day is allowed to pass by after the victory the hoodoo is powerless.  By the same token it is safe to have the picture taken just before he starts to pitch.”

George Mullin, in a photograph presumably not taken the day after a victory.

After retiring in 1915, Mullin became a police officer in Wabash, Indiana and died there in 1944.

5 Responses to “Superstitions”

  1. Jeff December 9, 2018 at 1:10 am #

    What happened to Ulysses after all of this? Where did he go?

    • Thom Karmik December 11, 2018 at 8:30 pm #

      Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any information on what became of him.

    • oddsoxx May 21, 2020 at 3:14 pm #

      visist the Ty Cobb Legacy facebook page. I remember reading that Cobb gave him employment at his Hupmobile dealership and he became a chauffeur to a wealthy Detroit personage. Cobb may have helped him secure that job, too. Cobb and Harrison remained friendly for the rest of his life, but Harrison died in the early 1940s.


  1. “Victim of Hoodoo” « Baseball History Daily - February 4, 2013

    […] Tigers’ pitcher George Mullin, whose story I told in October, was one of the most superstitious players in the history of the game, and he was not alone in Detroit. […]

  2. The Definitive Cobb Biography | Baseball History Daily - May 11, 2015

    […] to the often told stories of the death of Cobb’s father and Cobb’s relationship with mascot Ulysses Harrison (bonus points here because unlike many of the versions of this story elsewhere he gets Harrison’s […]

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