Wrestling a Crisco-Slathered Ralph Jon Fritz and Other Twins Superstitions

May 30, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Twins pitcher Jeff Gray (60) and catcher Drew Butera (41) shake hands after Butera passes Jeff Catcherton in the Twins record book. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

The Twins have now won three in a row, all while wearing the "M" caps that they wore in the '80s and '90s. While these are clearly inferior to the "TC" caps in every conceivable way*, the Twins will likely wear these mistakes until they lose again. Baseball, as we've learned, is as superstitious a sporting enterprise as exists, so even though you can more rationally chalk up the winning streak to some timely hitting from Josh Willingham or a putrid Oakland lineup, there is no way in the name of Hosken Powell that the Twins will stop wearing these stupid and ugly hats until their luck changes.

This got us to thinking of other superstitious things that Twins players past and present have done in order to preserve or change their fortunes. These are all, without a doubt, made up:

  • On the days he was scheduled to start at home, Kevin Tapani would walk to the WCCO-TV studios in Minneapolis, strip to the waist, and wrestle a Crisco-slathered Ralph Jon Fritz on Nicollet Mall. If there was no winner after 10 minutes, a draw was declared and Tapani and Fritz would steal Bud Kraehling's Lincoln Town Car and do donuts in the parking lot of the Lake Street K-Mart.
  • After every strikeout, Matt LeCroy would eat half a Ziploc bag of homemade venison jerky. After every other type of at-bat, the Matt LeCroy would eat an entire Ziploc bag of homemade venison jerky.
  • Twins reliever Frank Pastore was convinced that all the team's catchers were illegal immigrants, and would only pitch to a "real American," which was a scarecrow he crafted from Big League Chew, Joe Soucheray columns and old sunflower seed shells. He called it Jeff Catcherton. Two weeks ago, Drew Butera moved past Catcherton on the Twins all-time OPS leaders for catchers.
  • John Castino was deathly afraid of vampires, and would always wear a necklace of garlic cloves and crucifixes in Baltimore, as he'd heard that was a big vampire town from Twins clubhouse manager Jim Wiesner. On a late-season road trip in 1979, Castino forgot to pack the necklace and emerged unscathed in Charm City, only to be swarmed by vampires outside of Fenway Park the next evening. It turns out Boston is the vampire town, not Baltimore, and that Wiesner was just pranking the rookie. Keep your head on a swivel, rook!
  • On the days he caught in 1991, Junior Ortiz would eat the same lunch. While not unheard of, Ortiz was a unique case in that he made a big tub of chicken salad in March, and would only eat sandwiches from that batch. The lack of proper refrigeration, Ortiz's preference for "good and warm" mayonnaise and simple science meant that by mid-summer, Ortiz would have catastrophic bouts of food poisoning prior to the first pitch, contributing to his wild-eyed appearance, lack of plate discipline and halting post-game interviews.
  • Whenever he was on a hitting streak, Mike Lamb demanded that everyone refer to him as Like Mamb, with a hard "b" at the end. No one ever did.
  • When his turn in the rotation came up, Joe Mays would have the team's traveling secretary go to a used record store and have him or her buy all the copies of the Spin Doctors' Pocket Full of Kryptonite CD. Mays would take the discs and smash them to bits with a fungo bat. When asked why, Mays would just shrug and say, "'Two Princes,' my [redacted] ass. [Redacted]."

(*Here's the best way to put it: the only Twin who looked good in the "M" caps was Scott Erickson, and that was only because of the hockey hair and his whole Cobra Kai dojo aesthetic. Scott Erickson should NEVER be your best-case scenario for anything. Kirby didn't even look right in it. Kirby!)

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