The celebrations vary from ghost to ghost across this nation. However, even the most sophisticated people might think twice about black cats, walking under ladders, or breaking a mirror during this time of year.

As a former player, coach and still current sports fan, I would have to admit that a high percentage of athletes vary from mildly to extremely superstitious. Since many spectators have been exposed to the various sports lore over the years they too have fallen to the traditional jinx. None are more obvious than the Babe Ruth curse with the Boston Red Sox.

Not since 1918 have the Sox won a World Series. Their star hurler and slugger named Babe Ruth was traded to the New York Yankees following the 1919 campaign. The jinx was born as the famed home run king led the Yanks in many future fall classics. Few are aware that the Boston club was a perfect 5-0 in World Series play prior to the trade. Since 1918, they are a dismal 0-4.

The Red Sox stopped the Chicago Cubs 4-2 in that fateful 1918 series. Thus began the Cubs long journey of fan frustration that holds a major league record for futility. Since their triumph in 1908, "Wait until next year," has been the South Side fans perpetual whimper.

My hope is that Boston will defeat St. Louis for the championship in game seven of the current World Series to be played on Sunday, Oct. 31.

Correct, that's the perfect time for curses to be lifted. It's HALLOWEEN, kiddies! Plus Daylight Savings Time ends that morning. See, even the stars are in line. I'll bet the old Babe gets a real laugh if it happens.

Speaking of baseball oddities, I was hoping that Houston, Tex. would play Boston, Ma. in the World Series again to be completed on Halloween. My suggestion in that scenario was to have the presidential election decided according to the winning baseball club. It seemed like the fairest way to decide the issue and would save a lot of money. For those who have lost my logic, please follow. President Bush lives in Texas and was Governor while Senator Kerry represents Massachusetts.

Baseball players are the most superstitious from spectators' viewpoint. The game is so slow that fans have time to watch those little signs in order to stay awake. Some stars follow the same routine before moving into the batter's box if they are having a hot hitting streak Fielders also have certain rules about entering or leaving the field. The majority of veterans are very protective about their uniform number. In some cases, trades for stars include being assigned the same lucky number.

Food is another important part of the game day. Those with a hot bat will eat the same meals and then change rapidly if a slump occurs. A bad habit for young players is the refusal to wash a shirt, socks, or worse during a winning streak. Hair styles also play a part in these antics.

Winning streaks may begin by chance. I recall one high school baseball team that had its confidence built through such an event. Many years ago, a veteran coach was trying to relax his players before a big game in mid-season. The squad had a very likeable sophomore manager who took care of equipment before the game. As a joke the coach said, "Pete, you put the bases on wrong. You got first and third reversed." The lad went out and changed the bags amid snickers. "The way you boys have been hitting maybe you'll reach 'third' base this way," the coach said.

Sure enough, the team scored heavily so the base changing custom was continued with a great winning streak resulting.

Perhaps the most famous jinx in sports is the one generated by the "Sports Illustrated" cover. Putting an athlete on display has been proven to be unlucky somewhat like 75 percent of the time. Certain proof that athletic competition requires both mental as well as physical conditioning.

Trick or treat!

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