You love baseball. Tim Kurkjian loves baseball. So while we await its return, every day we’ll provide you with a story or two tied to this date in baseball history.
ON THIS DATE IN 1984, reliever Edward Mujica — and all his superstitions — were born.
Here’s how Cardinals teammate Jason Motte described Mujica: “He says he’s not superstitious, he says this is all part of his routine … yeah, right. He always has to be in the same spot of the bullpen with two outs in the fourth inning of every game. Then, in the fifth inning, he always digs a hole at the front end of the bullpen mound. Then he spits a half cup of red Gatorade into the hole. It has be to red. He also likes to put his sleeve in my coat jacket every night in the bullpen. I’m not sure why … and they say I’m all screwed up.”
Other random acts of superstitions by players for all or parts of their careers.
Infielder Eliot Johnson always chewed grape-flavored gum in the field, but at the plate, he always chewed watermelon-flavored “because the hits are in the watermelon-flavored gum.”
Outfielder Torii Hunter, at 6:40 p.m. for a 7:05 game, always cleaned his spikes with Mr. Bubble spray. If he reached base in the first inning, and had to slide, he would “run to get my Mr. Bubble after the inning, and clean my shoes. If you look good, you play good. And if you play good, they pay good.”
Reliever Sean Burnett kept a poker chip in his back pocket on the mound.
Infielder Ryan Zimmerman always took a shower at the same shower. If it was taken, he would wait. “When Zim was in the middle of his 30-game hitting streak,” teammate Adam Dunn said, “I went up to him in the shower and said, ‘Dude, scoot over. I need some of that water, man.’ There are a lot of hits in that shower. Guys go wherever the hits are located.”
Dunn said, before games, he would “take four pieces of sugarless gum as I stand on top step of the dugout. Everyone on our team knows I do this. I chew them into a nice ball, then it spit it out. Then — using my hand as a bat — I swat the wad of gum out toward the field. Everyone on our team gets out of the way because they know I’m swatting my gum wad out on the field.”
Reliever Randy Choate said, “When I come to the mound, I have to pick the ball up off the grass, not the dirt. If it’s on the dirt, I have to kick it to the grass, then pick it up. If a teammate or umpire throws a ball to me when I first come in to pitch, I immediately drop it on the grass, then pick it up. Then I throw seven warm-up pitches. I am an even-numbered guy. Everything in my life is even numbers — I wear No. 36 — except warm-up pitches thrown. It’s always seven pitches. It’s never eight. It’s never six. It’s always seven.”
Closer Huston Street, during an impressive save streak “wore the same 10-year-old sweatpants, a polo shirt and shower shoes, the ones they give you in spring training,” teammate John Baker said. “He is the part owner of a clothing company, he makes $9 million a year, and he wears the same clothes three weeks in a row. But for the superstitious, when you look at them, and they appear to be doing something that seems so wrong, then something must be going right.”
First baseman Adam LaRoche said, “My superstition is to not have a superstition. I don’t want anything weighing on me. What if I wanted to go to my son’s game, but I missed it because I have to go to the same sub shop every day for lunch at the same time? How I am going to explain that to my wife?”
Other baseball notes for May 10
In 1937, Jim Hickman was born. When Pete Rose famously ran over Ray Fosse at home plate in the 1970 All-Star Game, it was Hickman’s single that drove him in.
In 2012, the Orioles became the first team in American League history to get consecutive homers from their first three batters — Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis — in the first inning. The last time it had been done was by the 2007 Brewers. Hardy was the second hitter to hit a home run in that inning, too.
In 1990, the Royals’ Sal Perez was born. He is a huge catcher. He was a really big kid. “When I was 9 or 10 years old in Venezuela,” he said, “they had a height requirement for our teams. If you were too big, it didn’t matter how old you were, you weren’t allowed to play. I was too big to play; I was extra tall. So, when they were getting all the kids together for the first practice to pick the team, my mom told me to stand in the back of the pack, and kind of bend my knees, to make myself shorter. She showed me how to kind of duck down. But it didn’t work. I tried out for 10 teams. I was too big for seven of them.