Field of Magic

Baseball’s Superstitions, Curses and Taboos


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About the Book

Superstition has been a part of baseball from the beginning. From good luck charms to human mascots to ritual statues of Babe Ruth to the curse of Colonel Sanders, there may be almost as many superstitions as players (or fans). Drawing on social science, religious studies and SABRmetrics, this book explores the rich history of supernatural belief in the game and documents a wide variety of rituals, fetishes, taboos and jinxes. Some of these have changed over time but coping with uncertainty on the field through magical thinking remains a constant.

About the Author(s)

John Cairney is a professor and the head of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences at the University of Queensland in Brisbane Australia. Originally from Canada and a lifelong Toronto Blue Jays fan, he is the author of four other books and more than 300 published journal articles. He is also a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

Bibliographic Details

John Cairney

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 206
Bibliographic Info: 21 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8546-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4667-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
The Cerebral Nature of Baseball? 3
One. Rituals 19
Two. Fetishes 49
Three. Curses 83
Four. Taboos 119
Five. Has Science Killed
Superstition? 145
Epilogue 167
Chapter Notes 171
Bibliography 189
Index 193

Book Reviews & Awards

“An excellent review of the subject and related literature”—George Gmelch, professor of anthropology, University of San Francisco and Union College

“An extraordinary study of the role and history of superstition in the sport of baseball on the part of players and fans alike…‘Field of Magic’ will have a very special and unique appeal to dedicated baseball fans everywhere— making it an unreservedly recommended and enduringly popular addition.”—Midwest Book Review