Friday the 13th sets stage to talk superstitions in baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals are just one team that is familiar with the rally animal.
Thursday night a cat simply known as “Rally Cat” made its way onto the field during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.
After the cat made its appearance, the Cardinals put up five runs in the fifth inning. It immediately brought me back to 1969 and the black cat at the old Shea Stadium and ran past Ron Santo in the on deck circle.
The Chicago Cubs entered September of that season 32 games above .500. That team ended up losing their first place lead to the New York Mets after a string of losses. You also have the curse of the billy goat, but that’s a story for another day.
Fast forward things to the 2011 post season. The St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series. It was then, that the now infamous “rally squirrel” scurried across home plate right in front of the now-retired Skip Schumacher.
The Cardinals went onto win that series (3-2) and all Cardinals’ fans know what happened after that. However, all of this animal talk really got me thinking, is it really the animals that flip the switch in how a team does?
It’s really no secret that baseball players have superstitions. Some players have to put their socks on a certain way, some wear their socks high, some prefer the baggy style. Either way, it’s about how good they feel so they can perform at their best at baseball’s highest level.
You may recall the aforementioned Skip Schumacher did something very particular during his playing days. Whenever he would come to bat, he would take a swing, put the bat between his legs, adjust his gloves and stare aimlessly out into the bleachers.
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That in itself was one of the more unique things fans had ever witnessed. The list goes on and on of players who had extreme superstitions during their playing days, but how many had their games interrupted by animals?
Whether it’s a squirrel, a bee or even a cat, they do play a factor. When an animal comes onto the playing field, fans get excited. The broadcasters in the booth get excited, it’s just not something you see every day.
A 162 game season can get monotonous at times, both for players and fans. Sometimes you just need that extra jolt of energy to get you through. Sometimes, you just need something to change it up.
No matter the animal, it sparks a fire into a team and a fan base. Maybe you don’t believe in superstitions. Maybe you think teams just kick it into gear when they need to. Certainly animals can’t be blamed for a teams failures, but they’re celebrated when a team does well.
Sure, maybe the black cat at Shea was a legit curse. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since. Cardinals fans certainly celebrate the squirrel that most certainly saved their season.
Although the squirrel didn’t create the World Series game six magic, fans always remember two things when you ask them about that year. They remember David Freese‘s walk-off, and they remember the little gray squirrel that scurried across the plate.
Although the game against the Angels Thursday night didn’t have any win or go home implications, it did secure a series sweep. Most fans would agree, it was a much needed sweep.
Superstitions aren’t really something everybody gets behind, but some take them very seriously.
A small part of you has to believe that when things like this happen, players really do rally around each other and step up their game.
I want to hear from you. Do you believe in superstitions? Do animals running on the field really make the difference?