COLUMBIA, Mo. — If you know where to look inside the LSU baseball dugout, you will sometimes find a tiny Spider-Man toy that shoots water from its hands.
It’s black, maybe three inches tall, with white, oval eyes and a spider logo on its chest from the Marvel Comics story.
The Tigers call it Ja-boo, and they decided it’s male, sometimes referring to the toy as “him.”
If Ja-boo appears during home games, it hangs out on a makeshift throne. Ja-boo has presided over games from the top of the dugout and the edge of the camera well. The Tigers once gave him binoculars.
Last month, Ja-boo showed up in the LSU dugout before a midweek blowout win. Freshman pitcher Chase Costello liked the toy. He kept it around ever since.
“That one was looking at me,” Costello said. “I was like, 'You know what? This is going to be our good-luck charm.' "
When Ja-boo comes to games, the players angle it toward home plate while the other team bats, trying to send negative energy at their opponent. They painted a cross on its forehead in white-out.
Costello brought Ja-boo when LSU played at Georgia. Unavailable to pitch, he fashioned a paper cup into a crown.
That weekend, the Tigers went 15 innings without scoring a run, so Costello made hitters rub Ja-boo’s head. LSU scored a run. Then it scored four more a couple innings later.
The day of the final Georgia game, Costello added a slim purple headband.
"Little PVO headband," Costello said. "Positive vibes only."
But LSU lost that series, and Ja-boo hasn’t traveled since. This weekend, Costello left Ja-boo at home with freshman pitcher Landon Marceaux, who did not make the trip to Missouri.
“He’s OK with it,” Costello said, and he meant Ja-boo.
Costello said Ja-boo stays in his locker, but he also created a bed at home. It consists of a napkin blanket and salt packet pillow. One day, Ja-boo accidentally came to class with Costello. He forgot Ja-boo was in his backpack.
"Chase went overboard with it," freshman pitcher Cole Henry said.
Not everyone on LSU's team is aware of this small toy sometimes chilling inside the dugout. Shortstop Josh Smith never heard of it. Neither had coach Paul Mainieri.
“Those things,” Manieri said, “I'm generally not aware of.”
Ja-boo is not the first toy used for good luck by a superstitious baseball team. At the 2017 College World Series, according to ncaa.com, LSU kept a character from “The Lion King” and a smiling yellow car inside its helmet cubbies. C-3PO hung off the side of the dugout.
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The previous year, the Cleveland Indians built a shrine to Jobu, a voodoo statue from the movie “Major League.” Costello did not say LSU derived the name for its toy from the film, and he denied any role of voodoo in its inspiration.
“I tell you what,” Costello said, “I'm definitely not into voodoo.”
Ja-boo owns a spotty track record. The Tigers beat Mississippi State without him. They also lost to Southern without him. The toy's influence undetermined, Costello hasn't discarded him.
“I hope we continue using it,” Costello said. “I'm going to keep bringing it.”
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