PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES are renown for being a superstitious bunch, not washing clothing or body parts, wearing colourful necklaces they believe have magical powers, even abstaining from sex!
But some of these characters are so unusual that even other pro athletes find them strange, and they find themselves on this list:
1. BILL LEE
The fact that teammates dubbed him “The Spaceman” tells you something about what it was like to share a locker room with Bill Lee.
Spaceman was one of the most outspoken ball players ever, and he liked to speak about controversial issues.
He supported Mao, advocated population control, and once lobbied the American people to petition to have a World Series game replayed on the grounds of a blown call. He even claimed that Boston bus fumes couldn’t harm him as marijuana had made his lungs impervious to it.
Lee’s personality eventually caught up to him as clashes with management led to his departure from Boston and Montreal.
2. WADE BOGGS
Notoriously superstitious, Wade Boggs was also a little obsessive.
He had to do perform his pregame ritual precisely: Fielding exactly 150 ground balls in warm up, taking batting practice at 5:17, running sprints at 7:17 and writing “Chai” in the dirt before every at bat.
Oh, and ate chicken before every game, of an 18-year career, that’s over 2400 chicken dinners! No wonder teammates dubbed him “Chicken Man”. Since Boggs is a Hall Of Famer I suppose it’s safe to say that the ritual worked.
3. PATRICK ROY
Goalies are crazy. This is a hockey fact. You have to be crazy to agree to let people fire a piece of vulcanized rubber at you at 100 mph.
But Patrick Roy might be the strangest goalie ever. He talked to his goalposts during games, tapping them affectionately and thanking them for making saves, he never skated over the red or blue lines, always hopped over them, and to start each game he skated backwards towards his net spinning around at the last second because he believed this made the net smaller.
Considering Roy is second all-time in career wins, he may have been on to something.
4. TURK WENDALL
Turk Wendall is possibly the most superstitious pitcher ever—and that’s saying something.
Wendall wore a necklace of teeth and claws of animals he had hunted to intimidate batters and remind him of kills. He had to perform a high-step leap over the baseline on his way to and from the mound. And he always chewed exactly four pieces of black licorice while pitching, spit it out on the way off the field, then brush his teeth in the dugout.
Why anyone would subject his tongue to a constant assault of anise and mint is beyond me, but it worked for Wendall for 11 seasons, so what do I know?
5. JOE NAMATH
“Broadway” Joe Namath was as much as showman as he was an athlete.
While his on field exploits like predicting that his Jets would win Super Bowl III or wearing a fur coat on the sidelines are certainly remembered.
You’ve got to hand it too the guy though, there still hasn’t been another NFL Quarterback with the confidence to wear pantyhose publicly.
6. MARK FIDRYCH
Nicknamed “The Bird” due to his resemblance to “Big Bird,” Fidrych had a short, yet storied career.
Pitchers are known to be a little unusual, but Fidrych was quirky than most. He would talk to himself, talk to the ball, walk around the mound after every pitch, aim the ball like a dart, repair cleat marks on the mound and return balls he felt had ‘hits’ in them.
His on-field antics quickly became a hit with Tigers fans and something of a national phenomenon. Attendance would swell with “Bird Watchers” whenever he was pitching and he was named Rookie of the Year.
Unfortunately for Fidrych and his fans, a torn rotator cuff cut his career short.
7. DENNIS RODMAN
From the craziest hair color of any athlete—possibly the top 10 craziest hair colors—to the publicized relationships with Madonna and marriage to Carmen Electra, Rodman was eccentric and attracted to the eccentric.
Rodman is known for cross-dressing and partying and being weird as much as he is for being a basketball player. Yet he was a really good basketball player: Five-time NBA champion, two-time All Star, Defensive Player of the Year Twice.
No wonder they didn’t care what “The Worm” did with his hair.
8. MIKE TYSON
The man has a face tattoo, that’s enough to qualify you as one of the strangest people in any field.
But Iron Mike has also threatened to eat an opponent’s children, engaged in street fights while Heavyweight Champion, been arrested multiple times, spent a few years in federal prison, and is really loves pigeons.
Oh yeah, and he bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a championship bout.
Mike Tyson may not only be the strangest athlete ever, he may, in fact, be crazy. I mean clinically. Something certainly doesn’t seem right about him, and repeated punches to the head couldn’t have helped.