Top 5 Most Notorious Superstitious Athletes

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Jumping over the foul line when taking the field in baseball. Not washing a uniform during a winning streak. Eating the same meal before each game. Superstitions such as these are common for many athletes. However, a few are notorious for taking superstitions to the extreme—to the point that they become part of their legacy.

5 Patrick Roy

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Hockey goalie Patrick Roy, widely regarded as one of the best of all-time at his position, also gets attention for his superstitions on the ice. The quirky player—who spent 19 seasons, mostly with the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche—would skate backward toward his goal at the start of a period before quickly turning at the last moment. His most notable practice was conversing with the goal net throughout a match, especially to thank it after a deflected goal. Teammates called him St. Patrick for his ability to charm the goal.

4 Serena Williams

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Tennis star Serena Williams, who made her professional debut at the age of 14 and has won 31 major singles and doubles championships as of July 2013, engages in numerous rituals, which she refers to simply as “routines.” Williams wears the same pair of socks throughout a tennis tournament. She wears shower sandals to the court and has a distinct shoe-tying process. What makes Williams stand out among notorious superstitious athletes is that she carries her rituals into the match, always dropping the ball five times before her first serve and two times before the second.

3 Jason Terry

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NBA star Jason Terry, who has played with the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics since joining the league in 1999, may very well be basketball’s most superstitious player. Like Boggs, Terry typically dined on a pregame chicken meal. He also wore five pairs of socks during each game. Terry’s most eccentric ritual, though, was wearing the shorts of the team’s next opponent to bed the night before a game. Needless to say, this put a lot of pressure on support staff to help him with his wardrobe.

2 Wade Boggs

Boggs, who played 18 Major League seasons mostly with the Boston Red Sox, was certainly more known for his baseball prowess than Wendell, but he was also one of the sport’s most superstitious athletes. He was famously known for eating chicken before every game, earning him the nickname “Chicken Man.” He also insisted on ritual adherence to a pregame regimen, including batting practice at 5:17 and sprints at 7:17.

1 Turk Wendell

Turk Wendell, who pitched for the Cubs, Mets, Phillies and Rockies from 1993 to 2004, is the runaway champion of superstitious athletes. In fact, Wendell is an example of an athlete who would have gone mostly unknown were it not for his eccentric and ritualistic superstitions. The baseball relief pitcher’s activities included chewing black licorice while pitching; brushing his teeth between innings; and wearing a chain with animal teeth around his neck. Not only that, he wore jersey No. 99 and insisted that his contracts feature all 9s, such as $999,999 instead of $1 million.

neil.kokemuller@top5.com'

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and entertainment writer and content media developer since 2007. He has also been a college marketing professor since 2004. He has four years of additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business, and he holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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