The enlightening article “Baseball Magic” by George Gmelch (1992) relates the rituals practiced by ballplayers before, during, and after a baseball game with the cultural practices found in different cultures across the world.
One such culture, as mentioned by Gmelch (1992), is practiced by the Trobriand Islanders who perform certain rituals in order to bring luck to their daily catch (of fish). Relating it to baseball, the two places where the Trobriand Islanders fished are associated with the three important aspects of the game: pitching, hitting, and fielding. In that sense, lagoon fishing is associated with fielding since it uses skill rather than luck, while open-sea fishing is associated with pitching and hitting since it relies more on luck.
Ballplayers practice different rituals that they assume to have brought luck upon them in the past, when they had a good game. Due to the results of each game, Gmelch (1992) claims that ballplayers would ponder on what they might have done that brought them good or bad luck, and later on, they would turn it into a ritual or cast them off as a taboo.
They would also practice apparel fetishes that they believe would bring them immense luck. It has also been mentioned that according to B.F. Skinner, these attitudes and practices stem from the results of each game, wherein ballplayers would associate their performance with their daily routines (Gmelch, 1992).
The article primarily relates the importance of cultural practices across the globe to the people who practice them. The game of baseball was given an example to associate the rituals’ importance for the players who perform them with these cultural practices.
Baseball is a game of both skill and luck wherein the players would rely more on the latter rather than the former. These rituals give them strength and confidence, intensifying their skills. Similar to these ballplayers are the warriors who practice a certain ritual to provide them with better protection and courage in battle.
The article also gives a detailed example of the importance of rituals for people who practice them. Certainly, these rituals intensify the attitudes like confidence and courage. However, the article could have also provided an opposing argument to the whole topic, as it could also mean that these rituals are just mere exaggerations of the ballplayers’ superstitious mentality about luck.
These rituals may have all been their learned set of skills that provide them with the results that they want. With an opposing argument, the whole article could have further explained the importance of such rituals for players, as well as for the whole culture of baseball and its fans.
Gmelch, G. (2000). Baseball magic. McGraw-Hill Contemporary Learning Series. Retrieved June 8, 2009, from http://www.dushkin.com/olc/genarticle.mhtml?article=27128