There was an unwritten rule on my high school baseball team: When we were batting with two balls, two strikes and two outs, everyone in the dugout had to put their hat on and rub the bill with two fingers until the opposing pitcher started his delivery.
Then, once he had, you had to take off your cap and “roll the dice” — taking your hat off and flipping it over, wiggling it back and forth.
This, of course, guaranteed that the ensuing pitch would not result in the third out of the inning.
Every sport comes with a certain degree of superstition, but baseball takes it to an entirely different level. Pitchers know not to walk on the foul line in between innings, and if he’s throwing a no-hitter no one’s allowed to talk about it — to him or anyone else.
Batters know to take the same amount of time in between pitches to do the same readjustment of their helmet, batting gloves and cleats. Everyone knows that if you’re on a winning streak you don’t change anything — and I mean anything — in your routine, both on and off the field:
In one of the more famous conditioning experiments, B.F. Skinner put pigeons in a cage that would produce food at regular time intervals, regardless of the pigeons’ behavior. The pigeons, however, noticed that after executing some chance behavior the food arrived. Thinking that their behavior elicited the food, a number of the pigeons then started repeating those same behaviors in the hopes of getting more food. In essence, the birds “learned” that certain movements produced food, even though it simply wasn’t true. In essence, the birds became superstitious.
The exact same phenomenon occurs on the ball field, where there is a massive time interval between successes. Batters get hits at a relatively fixed rate, but there’s enough time in between those hits to ascribe irrelevant behaviors to them.
For example, here’s Nomar Garciaparra, who was one of the game’s best hitters when I was growing up. He was famous for three things: tracking down ground balls in the hole, flirting with a .400 batting average and ritualistically adjusting his batting gloves between every pitch.
About Pigeon Patrol:
Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.
Voted Best Canadian wholesaler for Bird Deterrent products four years in a row.
Contact Info: 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD (www.pigeonpatrol.ca)