Baseball is a game of confidence and self-assurance.
If a player thinks they will strike out, nine times out of 10 they do.
Can’t hit a curveball? It might be more of a mental game then actual reality.
From wearing the pant legs pulled up high like old fashion players or jumping over the foul lines each time they take the field, baseball players have always had their superstitions to keep a positive train of thought while on the diamond.
In the 1989 movie Major League, the Cleveland Indians were the laughing stock of baseball entering the season but at season’s end they made the playoffs. A big part of the team’s success was various superstitions including larger-than-life slugger Pedro Cerrano’s use of a character named Jobu.
“Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats,” Cerrano famously said in the movie when asked about his superstition.
Looking for a spark to get the bats going early in the 2011 baseball season the Waxahachie Indians turned to a Jobu of their own.
“Coach Miller did it with softball. I wanted something like a Jobu and he knew of that because they used it in softball. He brought it out and it has been working for us lately,” senior Cameron Phillips said.
The confidence of the dugout friend has helped the Indians go from a light-hitting team in 2010 to a team that has had several games with more than 10 hits this season, including a 16-hit performance Thursday in the Western Hills Cougar Classic against Birdville.
“I think we are just seeing the ball, hitting the ball and getting a little loose. Jobu is just a fun little superstition thing we are doing. We don’t put too much into it,” Phillips said.
David Martinelli, Cody Brown, Kyle McLeroy and Phillips have all hit home runs through the team’s first 13 games this season with Martinelli, McLeroy and Phillips all going yard in the season opening 14-1 win against Birdville on Feb. 24 in the First Pitch Classic at Grapevine High School.
Waxahachie has scored 91 runs this season with the 14-run effort against Birdville being the single game high. The Indians are averaging 6.5 runs per game and opened District 15-4A play with an 11-1 win against Terrell where Phillips had his second home run of the season.
Evidently Jobu is happy and his happiness is paying off for the Indians.
So how do the Indians keep the floating coconut head happy?
“We light a little incense and get it smoking in the dugout but other than that there is not a lot we do with it. Sometimes if somebody is in a slump we will get around (Jobu) and try to warm it up a little bit,” Phillips said. “We keep the incense in the whole time but when it gets low we put another one in and wait until a runner gets on third before taking the little one out. He always has to have one going throughout the whole game.”
After starting slow against Terrell in the district opener the Indians put all the bats underneath Jobu on the bench and as the game moved along the bats started coming alive as the Indians finished with 12 hits while holding Terrell to one.
The senior-led team knows confidence at the plate sprinkled with a little patience is more important than placing the bats underneath a coconut in the dugout, but Jobu has brought a little fun and chemistry to the team as it seeks to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Phillips said he expects the team to carry on with the Jobu superstition all season, home or away, but as the confidence grows with game after game of multiple hits don’t be surprised to see the Indians rely on their natural abilities in pressure situations much like Cerrano did to help the Cleveland Indians win a big game in the movie Major League.
“I’m (mad) now, Jobu. Look, I go to you. I stick up for you. You don’t help me now. I say ‘(Forget) you,’ Jobu, I do it myself,” Cerrano said before hitting a two-run home run off a curveball to give his team the lead.