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That superstitious feeling

So last Friday was Friday the 13th.

I left my apartment to do a few errands late in the morning, and a couple of black cats dashed past me, under a ladder and right into a mirror, which they broke.

I turned around, went back into my apartment, and spent the rest of the day under the bed.

Not just under the covers. Under the bed.

It’s not like I’m superstitious. Years ago, someone asked if I was superstitious and I told them it was bad luck to talk about superstitions. It confused them long enough for me to get away.

I sometimes think the best superstition was the one Babe Ruth said he had on the baseball field.

His response? “My only superstition is touching all the bases when I hit a homerun.”

Babe was also known to wear a cabbage leaf under his hat quite frequently when he was in the outfield. There was nothing superstitious about that, though. That was just a way to stay cool in the hot summer day games.

A lot of athletes have superstitions. I have heard of hockey players who would go to the locker room between periods, take off their entire uniform and then put it back on again. Others insisted on always putting their uniform on in the same order every game.

One baseball player, a shortstop, insisted on cleaning away every pebble near where he went out to play the field. One opposing shortstop found out about this and made sure to always fill his pocket with pebbles he picked up in the dugout between innings, then scatter them when he was out in the field next. Drove the superstitious guy nuts finding more pebbles every inning.

Numbers are a big part of athletes’ superstitions, especially jersey numbers. Some athletes have been known to pay a new teammate a lot of money to claim the number they had on their former team. Sometimes the teammate doesn’t demand a lot. I know one outfielder who just asked his new teammate for a six-pack of beer to switch numbers.

One of my favourites was a minor-league outfielder named John Neves. He asked for number 7, but with a literal twist. He wore the number backwards on his uniform.

After all, that kind of matched his name – which was ‘seven’ spelled backwards.

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