Thursday, August 14, 2008


Haunted Baseball:
Ghosts, Curses, Legends, and Eerie Events
By Mickey Bradley and Dan Gordon

I'm not much of a ghost-story guy. I scare easily, and frankly, there are other things that interest me more. Like things that don't scare me. So this isn't the type of book that I would have gone out and bought. But that's the neat thing about gifts - you'll get exposed to something you might not have otherwise read.

And this book (a birthday gift) was enjoyable, for the most part. You can read it cover-to-cover in a couple of days, or just leave it out and pick and choose sections that interest you - it's a quick read either way.

As for the content, I'm about 50-50 on whether or not I believe it. I think I believe in ghosts - at least, I find some of these stories about hauntings at ballparks and hotels pretty believable. But there's some obvious bull in this book, too - so much so that it makes you wonder why the authors bothered giving credence to the storytellers (like the guy who claims Buck Weaver, of the 1919 Chicago White Sox scandal, speaks to him asking him to "clear my name". I liked your story better when it was called Field of Dreams.).

Some of the very believable stuff centers on old ballplayers haunting fields they used to call home. Like groundskeepers in St. Petersburg (at Huggins-Stengel Field, specifically) claiming that on the day Joe DiMaggio died, they painted a 5 on the field where DiMaggio used to play in spring training. That day, the lawnmower died each time it hit center, and it wouldn't mow the 5. Same thing with the number 7 when Mickey Mantle died. That's weird, and I believe it. Not sure why, but I do. And countless ballplayers talking about haunted hotels.

One cool story in the book centered on a plaque the New York Giants made to memorialize a player named Eddie Grant, who died a hero in World War I. The plaque was in play in deep center at the Polo Grounds, but became lost when the Giants moved to San Francisco. I don't believe the Giants became cursed because of the lost plaque (they haven't won a World Series since the plaque was lost), but I did enjoy learning something new about baseball history.

The question I wonder when I hear these ghost stories, though, is why are these ghosts so benign? Johnny Damon claims he had a ghost in his house once and it just pinned him to the ground for 15 minutes (strangely, another ballplayer claimed he had a similar ghost experience once. Why have I never heard of these types of ghost "attacks" before?). How come the ghosts don't do something terrible? Why are they so playful? Just walking past, being spotted? Why don't they do something? That's the question I'm left with.

There are a few mentions of the Mets (they, too, trained at the alleged haunted Huggins-Stengel Field), and it's a fairly new book, so a lot of current ballplayers are mentioned. A nice summer, casual read.

A NEW ADDITION: I've been working on this for a while now, and finally figured out how to do it - please note the addition of the standings on the right-hand side of the page. If possible, I'll add NFL standings when that season starts as well. Hopefully the NL East standings have the Mets on top from this day forward...

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