Baseball is overflowing with superstitions. Hot-hitting players sometimes don’t like to say much about their streaks and will avoid reporters. There’s that whole don’t-talk-about-a-no-hitter-in-progress thing. Players have lucky equipment, music, clothes, routines and meals. Nationals first-year bullpen coach Matt LeCroy has an unusual one involving food.
Earlier in the season, when the Nationals were struggling through injuries and inconsistent play, and before the current hot streak, LeCroy turned to a traditional Southern delicacy before games to snap the team out of its rut: a banana-and-mayonnaise sandwich on white bread.
“A lot of people were hurting in the beginning, and we needed some big wins so I thought, ‘I gotta go with the banana-and-mayonnaise,'” LeCroy said late last week. The Nationals are 5-0 on days when he eats the sandwich before the game, a fact that the jovial LeCroy is proud of.
LeCroy, a Belton, S.C. native and former Clemson baseball player, said he has eaten the sandwich his entire life. (Nationals third baseman coach Bobby Henley, an Alabama native, said he grew up eating the sandwich, too.) As a minor leaguer — LeCroy was drafted 50th overall in the 1997 draft by Minnesota — he would eat the economical meal, but it didn’t become a superstition, he said, until he became a minor league manager.
Five years ago, in his first year as Class A Hagerstown’s manager, LeCroy made the banana-mayo sandwich when the team needed a win or had a string of bad losses. The tradition continued through LeCroy’s managing stops at Class A Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg.
“I always ate ‘em and everybody made fun of them,” said LeCroy, who spent parts of eight seasons in the majors, including with the Nationals in 2006. “It’s just kinda my go-to when we needed a win. I just started doing it, and it took off.”
LeCroy said the sandwich tastes “awesome.” He said, however, he may love another mayonnaise meal more. For a snack, he will sometimes spread mayonnaise on saltine crackers and down a Coke. “It’s good,” he said with a grin.
LeCroy is judicious about using his lucky sandwich charm. With the Nationals, he insists he eats the sandwich only on days when he feels they are in a rut and need a win. And when he does eat the sandwich, he eats only that.
“You can’t go to it all the time,” he said. “If you go to it too much, it doesn’t work.”
(A hat tip to MASN’s Dan Kolko for pointing out the superstition.)