Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Baseball and magic

Thanks for the gif, Warren.

I'm working on a magic show so I thought to look into any connection between the worlds of baseball and magic. I ran into a lot of "baseball is magic" writing but no interaction between the two.

However I did run into a sociology paper titled Baseball Magic by George Gmelch.

He starts with a definition of magic than my magician friend would not recognize. Magicians practice a craft that they have spent many hours honing, not unlike a major league baseball player. What Gmelch talks about are rituals and superstitions, something I'm not one to talk badly of since I'm a superstitious fan.

What is fascinating is his thesis. Taking anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski's theory that humans are more likely to turn to magical or occult powers when they face situations where the outcome is important and uncertain, he correlates it with pitching, hitting and fielding. He sets out to prove that since the first two have a high degree of chance connected to it while fielding does not, he would find no superstitions or rituals for the latter. His research corroborates his thesis.

It's only 6 pages long and it's an easy read. I highly recommend checking it out. And if anyone has stories of baseball mixing with the magician's art, I'd love to hear them.