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Spooky sports stories

Deep Dive

October 31, 2021
SOURCE: NBA/GIPHY
SOURCE: NBA/GIPHY

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

In honor of the spooky day, we’re sharing a few of our favorite chilling sports stories. From haunted stadiums and hotels to the spirits of former players, these are sure to send a shiver down your spine.

  • It’s a great way to get into the spirit of the day, whether you believe in the tales or not. Happy haunting!

Content warning: The following contains mentions of suicide.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Everyone in the league knows about her.

— Former NBAer and current Miami Heat assistant coach Caron Butler discussing the Oklahoma City hotel ghost, Effie.

🌩 Effie — the ghost of Oklahoma City

SOURCE: SKIRVINHILTON.COM

When traveling to play against the Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA teams typically stay in the city’s Skirvin Hilton Hotel. Some of the league’s biggest names, like Derrick Rose and Metta World Peace, have shared spooky interactions or strange experiences after staying in the hotel, and many have blamed their unsettling stay for poor performanceson the court.

  • The story involved a former hotel employee named Effie (who may or may not have actually existed). Effie and the hotel’s owner, W.B. Skirvin, had an affair in which Effie became pregnant.
  • In order to avoid judgment and criticism from the community, Skirvin supposedly confined Effie and their newborn baby in one of the hotel rooms on the 10th floor. After some time locked away, Effie is said to have jumped from the window, ending her and her child’s lives.

Today, it is rumored that Effie and the baby haunt the halls of the Skirvin hotel. Players and other visitors have cited hearing a crying baby, slamming doors and strange sounds throughout the night.

  • One game day, Kyrie Irving said he woke up with several bed bugs on his pillow paired with a few bites. Which apparently was enough to convince him to produce a movie about the hotel’s hauntedness. Well, he does have some extra time on his hands.
  • Bill Simmons of The Ringer wrote about his experience in the hotel, saying he thought he heard one of his kids crying before remembering that his kids are no longer babies and also were not there in the hotel with him...spooky.

⚾️ Eddie Plank — the ghost of Gettysburg

SOURCE: MARK RUCKER/TRANSCENDENTAL GRAPHICS, GETTY IMAGES

Eddie Plank was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and became the first left-handed pitcher to win 300 games in the MLB,playing for the Philadelphia Athletics in the early 1900s. He finished his career with 326 wins and 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 one evening. Stitt said he could hear loud thuds, grunting, a woosh sound and footsteps.
  • The noises continued and began to sound familiar to Stitt. He said the sounds must have been a pitcher tossing balls and concluded that the ghost of the baseball legend returned to his home to continue his 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 reported by Stitt 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

SOURCE: ROBERTO MACHADO NOA/LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES

As if hockey doesn’t already have enough scary stories, one takes place in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame. The building originally housed the Bank of Montreal, where, in 1953, Dorothea, a 19-year-old woman who worked at the bank, attempted to take her own life in the women’s restroom and later died in the hospital the next day.

  • Soon after her death, Dorothea’s former colleagues started experiencing strange things at the bank 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, the bank even installed a second bathroom due to many reports of strange occurrences and overwhelmingly bad vibes. When the bank relocated, however, the reports from the original restroom continued.

Today, visitors to the Hall of Fame have reported seeing a woman with long, dark hair near the women’s restroom on the second floor, and many reported the feeling of being watched or hearing footsteps and screams, similar to the bank employees long ago. Chills.

⚾️ Rochester’s Frontier Field

SOURCE: TIM CLAYTON/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES

With baseball being one of the oldest sports in North America, it makes sense that a handful of strange or unusual events have occurred. But only one park is “officially” haunted — Rochester, NY’s Frontier Field, home of the Rochester Red Wings (the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A team).

  • In 1996, it was built on a site that once held a warehouse, a schoolhouse and a paper company. In the latter, a janitor was rumored to have haunted the building, then stuck around when it was demolished and the field was constructed.
  • To make things spookier, unidentified bones were found while the ground was broken to begin construction for the field. To this day, no one’s sure if the bones were human or not. Cringe.

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 people 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 that seem to love the location. The Birds, anyone?

🏈 The Gipper and the Fighting Irish

SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES

One story from the University of Notre Dame football team that stands out is “The Gipper.” In 1920, George Gipp had been out late celebrating the team’s win against rival Northwestern. That night, he slept outside after being locked out of his dorm room and he caught pneumonia, which tragically led to his death at just 25 years old.

  • After his passing, students who lived in his dormitory reported hearing — stop us if you’ve heard this one before — strange noises and footsteps in the halls. There were also reports of loud horns going off in the middle of the night too. Um, rude.
  • Moments before he died, Gipp told legendary coach Knute Rockne to “win just one for the Gipper,” a phrase that can still be 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 also 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.

Today, students still report being spooked by what they assume is Gipp’s ghost in the halls, but most aren’t afraid for long, as “The Gipper” is known as a friendly spirit on campus. Very Nearly-Headless Nick of him.

🍬 Variety Pack

SOURCE: AP PHOTO/MORRY GASH

While we couldn’t list all of the chilling stories from around the sports world, today’s as good as any to learn about a few more.

Sports fans are known to be superstitious and believe in irrational things (like the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup this year), but whether you believe in ghosts or not, it’s certainly fun to learn about the folklore of sports communities from all over. Happy Halloween!