Moises Alou was born to be a baseball player. His father, Felipe Alou, played Major League Baseball from 1958 to 1974, and then managed from 1992 to 2006 (except for 2001). His uncles Matty and Jesus played as well. Moises may have been the best of the bunch, hitting over 300 home runs over his 17 year career and being selected as an All-Star six times along the way. A career like his often has something different about it — something, in this case, both rare and perhaps meaningless. While most professional baseball players wear batting gloves, Moises Alou — as seen above — did not.
Instead, he urinated on his hands.
In April of 2004, ESPN ran an article highlighting some of the odd things professional baseball players do. Buried toward the bottom came this vignette:
Alou says the secret to hitting without batting gloves is to harden your hands and prevent calluses. One of his methods might win someone the prize money on the TV show, “Fear Factor.” He urinates on his hands. That’s the honest truth. Alou said he isn’t sure where he learned this distasteful folk medicine, but it wasn’t from his famous father. And it works for Moises.
And Alou is not alone here: In May of 2004, Yankee catcher Jorge Posada (who also goes gloveless, as seen here) told Slate that you don’t want to shake his (Posada’s) hands during spring training — ostensibly for the same reason. But does it work? Slate‘s research team thinks not; if anything, it is more likely that urine — which while gross, is sterile – softens the skin, not hardens it. On the other hand (pun not intended), Moises Alou hit 39 home runs in 2004 — so who are we to argue?
Bonus Fact: Cats can be toilet trained. In fact, one purchaser of a cat toilet training kit testifies, “I brag about my toilet-trained cat to strangers in the grocery line.” (Although not everyone has had such luck.)
From the Archives: Superstitious Superstar: The odd (but not urine-related) rituals of Wade Boggs, one of baseball’s Hall of Famers.