His bats go to chapel, even if he doesn't
"In 1993 with the Astros, I was hitting .299 on the last day of the season, a Sunday," says Gonzalez, who's batting .298 with a team-high 50 RBIs this year. "A team chapel leader was leading a morning service in a room off the clubhouse. I slid my bats in there, stuck my head in and asked them if they could bring my bats back when they were done. It worked! I got a hit that day and ended up hitting .300 on the dot. I still put my bats in chapel now and then. Sometimes the chapel leaders give me funny looks."
He puts gum in his hat
"I always keep gum in my back pocket," says Gonzalez, whose chewed wad of Bazooka raised $10,000 for charity in a 2002 auction. "If we make the third out when I am on base, I take three pieces out of my pocket and put them in my helmet. Then I put my batting gloves on top of them and hand the coach my helmet. Superstition is not a dirty word in baseball. Not for me."
He likes to step on second base on his way to the dugout
To do so in Los Angeles, he has to outrun groundskeeper Jose Sanchez after the third and sixth innings so that he can spike the base before Sanchez puts in a new one. "As soon as our third out is made, I sprint in and he sprints out," says Gonzalez. "But he cheats. When he sees a ball in the air, he is already running onto the field. I have to stay out there. So he's changing the bag most of the time when I get there." Then Gonzalez and Sanchez banter briefly before Gonzalez heads in.
RICH KANE/US PRESSWIRE (GONZALEZ)
CORBIS (PRAYING HANDS)
THE TOPPS COMPANY, INC. (COMIC STRIP)
JOHN IACONO (SECOND BASE)