Baseball's New Bling Is Made For Believers

Play associated audio

Shouting "Your pitcher wears a necklace!" sounds like the kind of remark that could start a brawl in a major league ballpark. But if you watch this year's playoffs, you may notice most players do.

Not pearls — pearls would clash with most uniforms anyway — but a "metal-infused wellness product" that's apparently strands of titanium wrapped in nylon.

It's made by a Japanese company whose website doesn't even try to claim the necklace gives athletes an extra jolt of balance, calmness or energy. It just says: "Helping you be your best — optimizing your life."

I suspect most players wear these necklaces because most other players do, so why not? Baseball is a superstitious enterprise. Players tug at their sleeves before a pitch, tap their bat and refuse to change their socks — and often their underwear — during a winning streak.

Joe DiMaggio always touched second base when he ran in from the field. Wade Boggs, the Boston Red Sox batting champion, ate a whole roast chicken before games. After his former mistress so testified, opposing fans would cluck-cluck-cluck when he came to the plate. A pitcher named Brendan Donnelly threw away his undershirt when he lost a game, and as he played for six teams in nine years, Brendan Donnelly left a legacy of soiled laundry.

Of course, I could eat a whole roast goose and never bat .368 like Wade Boggs. A lot of players who imitate the superstitions of the great just wash out in the minor leagues.

But superstitions were performance enhancers before steroids. They're ludicrous but comforting. Even the most disciplined athletes — or opera singers or comedians — know they've been blessed with magical gifts and worry that their skills might vanish as unaccountably as they appeared. Superstitions offer an illusion of control. If you strike out, it's just because you changed your socks, not lost a step.

A little while ago, I ordered one of these metal-infused wellness products. Just as I was about to loyally order one inscribed with the Chicago Cubs logo, I asked myself: What could a necklace with the logo of a last-place ball club do for me? I got a Yankee necklace instead.

I felt no extra zing or pop as I exercised. But as I buttoned my shirt I wondered, "Why take this necklace off? Why not keep a little metal-infused wellness for writing, speaking and lifting our oldest daughter onto the top bunk of her bed?"

Then I thought: What if I'm hit by a car and they find a Yankee necklace under my shirt? My family would say, "Poor dear. Must have gone crazy."

So I threw it away after just a day. The necklace didn't go with my shoes anyway.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


Manic And Depressed, 'I Didn't Like Who I Was,' Says Comic Chris Gethard

Gethard tells stories of hitting rock bottom in his new one-man off-Broadway show, which is billed as a comedy about "suicide, depression, alcoholism and all the other funniest parts of life."

2,500 Years Ago, This Brew Was Buried With The Dead. A Brewery Has Revived It

In an ancient burial plot in what is now Germany, scientists uncovered a cauldron with remnants of an alcoholic beverage. So they teamed up with a Milwaukee brewery to re-create the recipe.

Log Cabin Republicans Decline To Endorse Trump Despite Pro-LGBT Leanings

NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, about the organization's decision not to endorse Donald Trump, even though Angelo calls Trump the most pro-LGBT presidential nominee in Republican Party history.

Presidential Campaigns Blast AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Donald Trump said it put "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few" and Tim Kaine called for "less concentration, especially in the media."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.