Baseball players as a group are notoriously superstitious and back in the mid-1930s, a 13-year-old boy from the west side of Detroit was a beneficiary of Tiger slugger Hank Greenberg’s superstition when he tabbed the kid his “good luck charm.”
During the 1934 season when the Tigers captured their fourth American League pennant the ball club hired 13-year-old Joe Roginski to be their bat boy after learning that he had been a mascot for a local sandlot team that had won four straight amateur titles.
According to author Richard Bak in his book, “Cobb Would Have Caught It,” Roginski changed his name to Roggin because he thought it sounded Irish and he was afraid the team would not want him if they knew he was Polish.
While Greenberg was chasing his first home run title he routinely played catch with Roggin before the game and he insisted that Roggin be the first to greet him at home plate after belting a round tripper.
As a result, Roggin became a local celebrity as Greenberg’s personal mascot.
With the Tigers soaring in popularity in ’34 and ’35 with back to back World Series appearances, national celebrities would often be found at the Tiger games not only in Detroit but also on road trips to New York and Chicago. They all wanted to see in person Gehringer, Greenberg, Schoolboy Rowe, Mickey Cochrane, and maybe even little Joe Roggin.
The picture that accompanies this article shows Joe Roggin on top of the Tiger dugout at along with Hollywood actors George Raft and William Frawley before game one of the 1935 World Series.
Now that was one lucky kid.