Traditions, Superstitions And Stranger Things: Third Times The Charm

Eric Urbanowicz
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So far in this series we’ve seen everything from players letting a dog urinate on their leg to logos being on only one side of a football helmet to octopuses being thrown onto the ice during the hockey playoffs. Crazy enough though, these don’t even scratch the surface. As we’ll see today, there are many quirks this series still has to touch on. With that said, let’s venture back into a world of athletes:


“Appearance Policy”

Pitchers Randy Johnson and Gerrit Cole, outfielders Johnny Damon and Andrew McCutchen and first baseman Jason Giambi all have one thing in common: they all got their hair cut because they signed with the New York Yankees.

It’s one of the most questioned policies among athletes in baseball, however for decades it’s been implemented and is still to this day. When and why did it start, though?

Starting in 1973, then team owner George Steinbrenner instituted the policy after seeing several players’ hair covering their numbers during the National Anthem. He would write down the players’ numbers since their names weren’t on the back of the jerseys, then instruct them to cut their hair.

Their official policy states: “All players, coaches, and male executives are forbidden to display any facial hair, other than mustaches unless there’s a religious reason, and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar.”

The reason for this has been attributed to Steinbrenner’s desire for the team to adopt a corporate attitude. It’s also speculated that his time in the United States Air Force has also inspired the policy.

The policy has seen backlash from players like pitcher David Price, who openly stated he would never sign with New York with the policy in place. Even McCutchen called for the team to get rid of their appearance policy after he left them team for Philadelphia.


The Real Life Clipper

Former Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks star Mike Bibby is known for a few things: being the last member of Vancouver Grizzlies roster to be active and for being the star of Sacramento when they were hot. However, during time outs he did something that is a bit unconventional.

During games, Bibby had a habit of biting his nails, as well picking at them. It would eventually peak when he would sit on the bench and someone would give him a pair of nail clippers. Many believe he was in the habit due to anxiety, with some speculating that it’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Whatever the case, if you see Bibby playing pick-up basketball ever, don’t be surprised if he finds a pair of clippers.



For those that don’t know, a “plumber” is a hard working hockey player who does the dirty work in the corners of the rink. Much to the surprise of some though, there was a real life plumber in the NHL….sort of.

In his rookie season, Ottawa Senators forward Bruce Gardiner was advised by a veteran to get his stick dirty and suggested he dip it in the toilet. At first he refused but when he had a scoring slump, he tried it. Strangely enough, it worked and he started scoring.

He would do this as a daily ritual for years, before making it a part-time thing, only breaking it out during slumps. It would even help him get the first goal for the Columbus Blue Jackets in franchise history. Kneel to the porcelain throne!


Smith’s Surprising Shot

Pregame meals in sports are nothing different, from pizza to cheesecake to salmon, there is nothing out of the ordinary. Though of the more unique ones comes from Minnesota Vikings’ safety Harrison Smith. Included are a cup of coffee, half of a plain bagel and a shot of Tabasco sauce before every noon kickoff game.

Smith has gone on record to say he’s not always hungry before kickoff, however he forces himself to do the shot. He also said he can’t have too much coffee because it makes him cramp up and that Tabasco, “wakes me up…the hot sauce is mandatory.” Considering it’s helped him to five Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams, it has to have some effect on him.

Eric Urbanowicz


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