Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Baseball: Field of Screams

aolnews - If you see a baseball game at Comerica Park in Detroit and also think you see a ghost, you may not be completely off-base.

Employees who work there swear they occasionally see a shadowy apparition in the lobby, and sometimes the elevator mysteriously opens and closes as if it's carrying an invisible passenger.

Some people think the ghost in question belongs to a construction worker who died in the late 1990s while Comerica was being built. Others believe it's the spirit of a security guard who suffered a coronary.

Brian Arnold, who works in the lobby, is convinced the mysterious spook belongs to the greatest player in Detroit Tigers history, Ty Cobb -- even though he played his home games at Tiger Stadium.

It sounds far-fetched -- especially since Comerica Park only opened in 1999 -- but Dan Gordon, co-author of "Field of Screams: Haunted Tales From the Baseball Diamond, the Locker Room, and Beyond" (Lyons Press), a new book about haunted baseball landmarks, said Tigers fans and employees alike have seen great players from the team's history at the new park.

"Many people think Comerica is haunted," Gordon said. "The workers see Ty Cobb, and even the players think the ghosts of old players who previously haunted Tiger Stadium have moved to the new park -- especially after the old park was demolished in 2008."

Conventional wisdom says that a building or structure has to be old to be haunted, but Gordon said Comerica and the new Yankee Stadium have both had numerous ghost sightings despite being young structures.

"The new parks emulate the old parks," Gordon told AOL News. "That sense of awareness contributes to the feeling that people are seeing ghosts because they want that connection to the sport."

Gordon's co-writer, Mickey Bradley, knows that firsthand. He was named after Mickey Mantle, and, while he won't say he believes in ghosts, he admits there is something timeless about baseball that lends itself to supernatural encounters.

"I was lucky enough to attend two of the last three games at the old Yankee Stadium, and, I'll tell you, it's hard to forget your personal history when you're there."

Bradley thinks baseball lends itself to paranormal sightings more than other sports because of the way it keeps its greatest players "alive."

"Baseball is all about the stats, and it allows fans to compare players from different eras in a way they can't in other sports," Bradley said. "That helps keep the players alive to the fans.

"Also, baseball players are more prone to superstitions. They play so many games compared to football. If a last-place team in football beats the first-place team, the fans could talk about it for years. With baseball, any team can beat another on any given day. After a while, players get used to the idea that some things on the field can't be explained."

Take Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. He has been known to accept the presence of "angels" in the outfield and has even told fellow players during stressful moments in a game that "the ghosts will come."

Turns out, one of those ghosts is Babe Ruth, who, Gordon said, seems to get around. Not only has he been seen at Yankee Stadium; he's also been spotted at Fenway Park in Boston and a whole bunch of places on the Gulf Coast where he used to barnstorm during the offseason.

The most unusual sighting may be an antique home in Marlborough, MA., that Ruth used to visit when it was a bordello.

It might seem a strange place for a ghost to hang out, but Gordon said the current owner isn't shocked that the Sultan of Swat wants to visit one of his former hot spots.

"I want to phrase this the right way, but she thought it was quite appropriate that Ruth would visit a place where he was happy," Gordon said.

Baseball: Field of Screams

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