More Superstitions

25 Apr

Billy Evans, “The Boy Umpire,” joined the American League staff at the age of 22.  Before becoming an umpire, Evans was a reporter for The Youngstown Vindicator and continued to write occasional, syndicated newspaper articles throughout his career.

Billy Evans

Billy Evans

In a 1907 article he wrote about superstitions:

“Baseball players are the most superstitious class of people in the world.  There are many superstitions in general in which all members of the profession have implicit confidence and nearly every player has some pet belief that is all his own.”

Evans mentioned one of the most superstitious players of all-time, Detroit Tigers pitcher “Wild Bill” Donovan, who as mentioned in an earlier post, believed that striking out the first batter he faced was bad luck.  According to Evans he also had a strange belief about the first game of the season:

“Donovan has a dread of working in shutout games on his first appearance.  He believes it a season hoodoo and would do almost anything to prevent it.”

Evans worked as an umpire in Donovan’s first start of the 1907 season, and the pitcher took a shutout into the ninth inning:

“I happened to be working back of Donovan that day and noticed that he seemed to let up in the ninth , also that he used nothing but a straight fast ball.  A pass, an error and a cracking hit by Charley Hickman sent a couple of tallies over the pan.”

Evans said he asked Donovan after the game if he “(lost his stuff,” in the ninth, Donovan said no:

“I have no desire to win a shutout game right off the reel…shutouts on your debut are not lucky.”

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan

Evans said Fred “Lucky” Glade, a St. Louis Browns pitcher who had just been traded to the New York Highlanders, had a phobia of pitching if the sun wasn’t out:

 “According to Glade, he has never during his career won a game on a dark day.”

The pitcher also “started each inning…by tossing a ball to (Browns first baseman) Tom Jones.  Next year he will have to use (Highlanders first baseman) Hal Chase

Chase must not have been an adequate substitute; Glade struggled with arm and stomach problems, posted an 0-4 record in five starts for the Highlanders, before returning home to Nebraska in June.  He signed a contract for 1909, but never reported and never pitched again.

Fred Glade

Fred Glade

Ty Cobb had numerous superstitions; one had to do with the “position of the broom with which the umpires use to dust off the plate.”  Evans said:

“The umpires find it handy to keep the broom to the left of the plate, while Cobb, when at the bat, always desires it to the right.  Whenever he steps to the plate Cobb always picks up the broom and tosses it to the right side of the batter’s box.”

Additionally:

“When in a batting slump Cobb always makes three crosses as he takes his position at the plate.  When Cobb reaches first base on his journey from right field to the bench he always gives the bag a terrific kick in the direction of the plate…Cobb insists that the short distance he moves the bag toward the plate with his kick often is the means of winning a close decision at first for his team.’

Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb

Evans said of superstitions in baseball:

“No doubt a close investigation would reveal that every player from the smallest bush league up has his pet theory.”

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3 Responses to “More Superstitions”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “Evans, who, at the Least, is Incompetent” | Baseball History Daily - December 2, 2013

    […] William George “Billy” Evans was nicknamed “The Boy Umpire” when he was hired by the American League at the age of 22.  After 21 seasons  he became a front office executive, working for the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers; he was also president of the Southern Association, authored two baseball books and in 1973, 17 years after his death, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. […]

  2. The Tribune’s First All-Star Team | Baseball History Daily - February 21, 2014

    […] Harry Davis of the Philadelphia Athletics was the consensus choice with five votes.  Cleveland’s Charlie “Piano Legs” Hickman, Washington’s George “Scoops” Carey, and “Honest John” Anderson of the St. Louis Browns […]

  3. “It’s Strange how these Stars of Balldom have such Beliefs” | Baseball History Daily - August 27, 2014

    […] followed a 1907 article about the subject, with more stories the following […]

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