Ballgame rituals

Baseball Magic, ‘George Gmelch Gmelch shows that magical ritual, taboos, and fetishes surround aspects of baseball that are least predictable, thus most likely to challenge human control.’

There is a taboo against crossing bats, against permitting one bat to rest on top of another. Although this superstition appears to be dying out among ballplayers today, it was religiously observed by some of my teammates. One of my Hispanic teammates became quite annoyed when another player tossed a bat from the batting cage and it landed on top of his bat. Later he explained that the top bat might steal hits from the lower one. In his view, bats contained a finite number of hits, a sort of baseball “image of limited good.” For Pirate shortstop Honus Wagner, a charter member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, each bat contained only 100 hits and never more. Regardless of the quality of the bat, he would discard it after its 100th hit.

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