Swisher: “I couldn’t have been more honored to wear it.”
There it was in all it’s glory, hanging from a hook inside Jason Giambi’s locker at Fowler Park on Friday afternoon. It’s gold and black with flames around the waistband. And it’s got a lot of hits under its belt.
“I only got to use it one time. That’s it,” Indians first baseman Nick Swisher said. “But I couldn’t have been more honored to wear it.”
We are, of course, talking about Giambi’s famous thong. It made appearances throughout last season in his locker, but consider this its 2014 debut. That’s impressive, because the 43-year-old Giambi says he’s had his lucky thong since 1997.
The story of the thong isn’t new, but the fact that Swisher revealed that he used it during the 2009 World Series with the Yankees added another layer to the legend. Over the years, when teammates have been in brutal slumps, a replica version has found its way into their locker, or into their hands.
“It’s only when guys need it,” Giambi explained. “It’s only when guys need a hit. It’s always around and it’s never not gotten a hit. That’s all I’ve got to say. It’s never not gotten a hit, swear to God. … Sometimes it gets them out of [a slump], because they don’t want to wear it the next day. There’s guys who have worn it and they’ve gotten hits.”
In an article in the Daily News in 2008, Derek Jeter admitted to wearing the thong.
“I had it over my shorts and stuff,” Jeter told the newspaper. “I was 0-for-32 and I hit a homer on the first pitch. That’s the only time I’ve ever worn it.”
But, Swisher and Giambi weren’t teammates in ’09. So, how did Swisher wind up with it?
Well, Swisher was hitting just .114 (4-for-35) in the playoffs heading into Game 3 against the Phillies. New York’s trainer at the time came to Swisher with the replica version of Big G’s thong.
“He was like, ‘Hey, I think you need to wear this,'” Swisher said .”I’m like, ‘Bro, I ain’t wearing that thing.’ He was like, ‘Come on, man. It’s a guarantee.’ That’s what he says, so, all right, I put it on. … I remember putting it on and saying to myself, ‘Am I really wearing this?'”
Top of the fifth inning…
“Hanging breaking ball, double bounces over the bag,” Swisher said. “I double down the left-field line.”
Top of the sixth inning…
“I went deep,” said Swisher, laughing at the memory. “I was like, ‘Man, I want to wear this thing for the rest of my life!”
Yankees won, 8-5, and took the Series in six games.
Why do players think it works? Giambi said it’s because the last thing they’re thinking about at the plate is their slump or their mechanics. What’s on their mind is how uncomfortable they are with the thong on. Giambi said no teammates wound up with the replica in their locker last season. The one that was hanging in Giambi’s locker on Friday was the original.
“It’s made a lot of road trips,” Giambi said.
“You have to be in dire need,” Swisher said. “I got to wear the replica, which he has blessed. It works just as well.”