Spooky stories from the sports world
🌩 Effie: The ghost of Oklahoma City
Content warning: The following contains mentions of death by suicide.
When NBA teams travel to play the Oklahoma City Thunder, they typically stay at the city’s Skirvin Hilton Hotel. Some of the league’s biggest stars, like Derrick Rose and Metta Sandiford-Artest, have shared stories of spooky interactions or strange experiences after staying there, and many have blamed their unsettling stay for poor performances on the court.
The story behind it? Legend has it, a former hotel employee named Effie (who may or may not have actually existed) had an affair with the hotel’s owner, W.B. Skirvin, and Effie became pregnant.
- To avoid judgment and criticism from the community, Skirvin supposedly confined Effie and their newborn baby to one of the hotel rooms on the 10th floor. After some time locked away, Effie is said to have jumped from the window, ending both her and her child’s lives.
It’s rumored that Effie and her baby still haunt the halls of the Skirvin hotel. Players and other visitors have reported hearing a crying baby, slamming doors, and other strange sounds throughout the night.
- One game day, now–Dallas Maverick Kyrie Irving said he woke up with several bed bugs on his pillow along with a few bites, which was enough to convince him to produce a movie about the hotel’s hauntedness.
- Bill Simmons of The Ringer wrote about his experience staying in the hotel, saying he thought he heard one of his kids crying before remembering that his kids are no longer babies…and also weren’t there in the hotel with him. Spooky.
⚾️ Eddie Plank: The ghost of Gettysburg
Eddie Plank was the first left-handed pitcher to win 300 MLB games, playing for the Philadelphia Athletics in the early 1900s. He finished his career with 326 wins and earned a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame before his death in 1926.
Seventy years later, the owner of Plank’s former Gettysburg residence, Peter Stitt, awoke to loud noises coming from within his home. Stitt said he could hear loud thuds, grunting, a woosh sound, and footsteps.
- As the noises continued, they began to sound familiar to Stitt. He said they reminded him of a pitcher tossing balls and concluded that the ghost of the baseball legend must have returned to his home to continue spring training.
- When the noises halted, just in time for MLB Opening Day in 1996, Stitt, along with many other believers in Plank’s return, surmised that the Hall of Famer must have been satisfied with his final practice session before resting for good.
In 2005, ESPN’s Don Barone went to investigate the ghost story for himself, traveling to Gettysburg with a psychic. While Plank didn’t come out and pitch during their visit, the psychic did claim to have a chat with him, during which Plank disclosed that the 1914 World Series was fixed. Spilling piping hot tea from the grave.
- Of course, many don’t believe this elaborate story, and the original incident is now thought of as a hoax, but it’s hard to rule out the possibility entirely — especially coming from a mysterious city like Gettysburg.
🏒 Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame
Content warning: The following contains mentions of death by suicide.
Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame is home to one of sport’s scariest stories. The building originally housed the Bank of Montreal, where, in 1953, 19-year-old bank employee Dorothea Mae Elliott attempted to take her own life in the women’s restroom and died in the hospital the next day.
- Soon after, Dorothea’s former bank colleagues began experiencing strange things, like flickering lights, footsteps following them, shrieking noises, and an overall feeling that someone was watching them — especially while in the women’s restroom.
- Eventually, due to many reports of strange occurrences and overwhelmingly bad vibes, the bank installed a second bathroom. When the bank relocated, however, the reports from the original restroom continued.
Today, Hall of Fame visitors report seeing a woman with long, dark hair near the women’s restroom on the second floor, along with the feeling of being watched or hearing footsteps and screams, just like the bank employees long ago. Chills.
⚾️ Rochester’s Frontier Field
Baseball is one of the oldest sports in North America, so it only makes sense that a handful of strange or unusual events have taken place on the diamond. That said, only one park is “officially” haunted — Rochester, NY’s Frontier Field, home of the Rochester Red Wings (the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate).
- It was built in 1996 on a site that once held a warehouse, a schoolhouse, and a paper company. A ghostly janitor who was rumored to have haunted the paper company allegedly stuck around after it was demolished.
- To make things spookier, unidentified bones were found when ground was broken to begin construction for the field. To this day, no one’s sure if the bones were human or not. *gulps*
Rochester Paranormal declared the field haunted in 2004. Their proof? Photos depicting mysterious figures or “floating entities” and smoky-looking shapes. But what’s more convincing are the stories from those who work there…
- From the clubhouse manager to the groundskeeper, many of the team’s staff have heard strange noises and seen dark shadows looming around the stadium, not to mention thousands of crows seem to love the location.
🏈 The Gipper and the Fighting Irish
In 1920, Notre Dame football player George Gipp had been out late celebrating the team’s win against rival Northwestern. That night, after being locked out of his dorm room, he slept outside and caught pneumonia, which tragically led to his death at just 25 years old.
After his passing, students who lived in his dorm reported hearing (stop us if you’ve heard this before) strange noises and footsteps in the halls. There were also reports of loud horns going off in the middle of the night, too.
- Moments before he died, Gipp told legendary coach Knute Rockne to “win just one for the Gipper,” a phrase still heard among Notre Dame players and fans when they need a rally. His full speech is even showcased on a plaque in the locker room.
- Gipp’s legacy even made it to the big screen: Prior to his days as president, Ronald Reagan played him in a movie about Coach Rockne and, in Rudy, the title character reads the plaque during his epic speech. We’re not crying; you’re crying.
Students still report being spooked by what they assume is Gipp’s ghost in the halls, but most aren’t afraid for long — “The Gipper” is known as a friendly spirit on campus. Very Nearly–Headless Nick of him.
🍬 Variety pack
While we couldn’t list all of the chilling stories from around the sports world, today’s as good a day as any to learn about a few more.
- Baseball has its own version of the Skirvin Hotel — the Pfister in Milwaukee has certainly caused a stir among MLBers. And then there’s Camp Randall Stadium — home of the Wisconsin Badgers — and its ties to the Civil War.
- Hop across the pond and dive into London’s Langham Hotel, with cricket players fleeing to its third floor due to “something weird going on.”
- Or head down south to Bolivia’s haunted soccer stadium and watch the chilling video of a strange figure running through the stands.
Sports fans are known to be superstitious, but whether you believe in ghosts or not, it’s certainly fun to learn the sports folklore of communities from all over. Happy Halloween!