So I feel pretty secure saying baseball players and coaches are quite possibly the most superstitious of all athletes. From the way they take batting practice to their aversion to stepping on lines, baseball guys are just looking for something to point to as a reason for success and also for failure.
We even have a photographer at The Daily Home who was asked by a coach to not photograph a state championship series because he was seen as a jinx of sorts. Whether their superstitions are grounded in any truth has yet to be determined, but that team did win the championship that year and the photographer was not in the ballpark.
With the knowledge of just how superstitious baseball players can be, I was a little surprised to find there aren’t too many superstitions being held by the most successful team in East Central Alabama right now.
In fact, the head coach even admitted to going against what he called his biggest superstition.
“I don’t really think we have any big superstitions,” Fayetteville baseball coach Morris Phillips said before his team played in the third round of the state playoffs last week. “I guess the biggest superstition we have – and I’ve broken it here lately and it’s helped – I usually never walk across the diamond. I wouldn’t ever walk across the lines. I’d walk around home plate to the dugout, but the last couple of games, I just run across the field and it hasn’t hurt us yet. That’s the biggest superstition we have.”
Much like their coach most of the players at Fayetteville wouldn’t admit to any superstitions or specific routines they keep before each game. Although one player did admit he did wear an article of clothing for every game.
“I wear the same white Tommy Hilfiger underwear every game day,” junior outfielder Brett Autrey said with a smile. “I have to.”
Whatever the Fayetteville Wolves are doing right now is certainly working. The Wolves are 20-9 and one of the last four teams in Class 1A still playing baseball. Fayetteville will take on Holy Spirit Catholic School in a best-of-three semifinal series beginning Friday.
The Wolves enter the game as one of the hottest-hitting teams around. They’ve scored 241 runs this season and 71 of those came in the playoffs. In addition to having sluggers who are a threat to go yard any time they’re at the plate, each player in the lineup seems to be hitting well as the team advances deeper into the postseason.
With the team on a roll hitting-wise, the stellar pitching has been a bonus. Junior Jeremy Melton and senior Matthew Williams have been the go-to guys throughout most of the playoffs and they haven’t let the team down yet. Both guys have more than 20 strikeouts in the postseason. With their success, Phillips hasn’t had to use his relievers much.
“I’ve got three great pitchers on the bench that could pitch too,” Phillips said. “When you’ve got two that are winning, they’re pitching well and feeling great you leave them in there within their pitch count.
“But if I had to pull them out I wouldn’t hesitate at all because I know that I’ve got three great relievers that I could bring in.”
Those guys on the bench haven’t sat idly by and watched the starters run for the championship. Fayetteville’s dugout could be heard loud and clear throughout the third round series against J.U. Blacksher on Friday. Phillips, who openly admits to not enjoying all the noise during a game, said he’s given up on telling them to be quiet.
“When the dugout’s pumped we seem to do better,” he said after the games Friday. “A lot of times this year when we didn’t make noises and all – I can’t stand the noises personally - but the guys, when they get their noises going, they’re live; they’re in the game. I just have to tolerate it because the one or two games where I said ‘hey, let’s don’t do it,’ we lost and we just played terrible.”
So if you make it out to Fayetteville on Friday, expect to hear plenty of noise from the dugout. And if the Wolves pull out the win, you’ll probably hear the cheers all the way to Childersburg because the small school from the south end of Talladega County will then be on their way to the state championship series for the first time in more than 20 years.
And while they may not be all that superstitious we’ll try to not send the “jinxed” photographer to Montgomery for the final series.