MLB stars with unbelievably weird diets

Does this mean I'm allowed to eat tacos every day?

May 8th, 2020

There are two things we know to be true about Major League ballplayers. First: Their bodies are their temples, well-oiled machines, the product of years of work in back fields and batting cages and weight rooms -- all with the goal of leaping tall buildings in a single bound and sending baseballs into low orbit, day in and day out, 162 times a year. Second: They are among the weirdest and most relentlessly superstitious people you could ever meet.

These two immutable truths collide during the pregame meal, when nutrition is paramount ... but not as paramount as a good-luck charm. Some of the biggest names in baseball have put some awfully weird things in their bodies over the years -- sometimes mere minutes before going out and doing stuff like this -- so we decided to compile some of our favorites below. Just, uh, please don't eat a baseball bat.

Babe Ruth's nigh-infinite appetite for hot dogs

Of course, any round-up of baseball's wildest eating anecdotes would have to include the Babe. As with just about everything Ruth-related, it's hard to tell where the man ended and the myth began -- his hospitalization in the spring of 1925, dubbed the "Bellyache Heard 'Round the World", probably wasn't the result of eating 12 hot dogs and eight bottles of soda one day during Spring Training, as great of a story as that would be.

But here's what we do have on pretty good authority: before every game, the Babe scarfed down three hot dogs like clockwork. (Also, he had a habit of making himself a bourbon and ginger ale every morning.)

Wade Boggs' well-earned nickname

Boggs was a man of many superstitions -- he took exactly 150 ground balls while warming up at third base, went out for batting practice at exactly 5:17 p.m. every night and drew "chai," the Hebrew word for "life," into the batter's box before digging in -- so it's probably not a surprise that he eventually got around to developing some truly outrageous dietary habits.

No, we're not talking about that flight. We're talking about the fried chicken: In the Minors, he found that his best hitting performances came after that specific meal, so he began asking his wife Debbie to make it for him ... all the time. Like, so often that, after Boggs became a star with the Red Sox, Perdue shipped him a six-month supply for free, just to say thanks.

Bryce Harper's waffle habit

Harper has always been a jaw-dropping athlete, ever since he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and started winning home run derbies as a teenager. But even the fittest among us have their quirks, and Bryce is no exception: Before every game, the 2015 NL MVP goes right for a pile of frozen waffles.

"As long as I'm doing good or my team's winning, I'm gonna keep doing the same thing," Harper told Jimmy Kimmel back in 2013. "I mean, I eat Eggo waffles. It has to be Eggo before the game."

Tim Lincecum's honestly impressive love affair with In-N-Out

If I asked you to name the big leaguer with the most gut-busting diet, Lincecum -- all 5-foot-11, 170 pounds of him -- would probably not be on the list. And yet, the fuel behind the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner may have been a truly incomprehensible amount of In-N-Out.

His regular order back then? Three Double-Doubles, two fries, one chocolate-strawberry shake. Yes to ketchup, no to lettuce and tomatoes. Total calorie count: 3,150. Lincecum scrapped the diet before the 2012 season, only for his pitching coach to complain that he'd "showed up too little." If only we were all so lucky.

Gabe Kapler's baffling chicken nugget extraction technique

The Giants' new manager is, shall we say, health-oriented. The guy has abs I didn't even know existed, for goodness sake:

How does he develop and maintain that sort of physique? Working out, obviously, along with a strict nutritional regimen. And I do mean strict. Back when Kapler was in college, he forgot his usual meal while on a road trip, forcing him to eat at McDonald's with the rest of his teammates. So he did what any normal person would do: He ordered 40 chicken nuggets, then patiently peeled the breading off of each and every one of them. (Hey, it beats spitting out your ice cream.

Turk Wendell, on-field snack pioneer

Much like Boggs, Wendell was basically a walking ball of superstition -- from his shark-tooth necklace to his love for the number nine. He got a little weirder than a chicken obsession with his diet, though: While on the mound, the former Mets reliever would chew on four pieces of black licorice. (Why licorice? He didn't want to chew tobacco.)

Then, when the inning ended, Wendell would jog off the field -- making sure to hop over the foul line, naturally -- and into the dugout, where he would immediately spit the licorice out and start brushing his teeth. “I don’t like the way licorice makes my teeth feel," he once told Sporting News. "It just sits there. I don’t want my teeth to get stained.” Fair enough.

Justin Verlander literally cannot get enough Taco Bell

When Verlander appeared on Conan O'Brien in the winter of 2012, he'd just won both the AL Cy Young Award and AL MVP honors. Naturally, O'Brien wanted to know the secret behind the righty's success. His response: eating Taco Bell before every single start.

Verlander's standing order somehow makes the whole thing even more outrageous: three crunchy Taco Supremes (no tomato), a Cheesy Gordita Crunch and a Mexican pizza (again, no tomato).