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A Baseball Ghost Story from the Vinoy Hotel

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Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

As far as I know there are two haunted hotels that are frequented by Major League Baseball players.  There's the Pfister in Milwaukee, WI and the Vinoy in St. Petersburg, FL.  The Pfister has more than its fair share of ghost stories, and is said to be "a real creep town" but today we'll focus on the Vinoy.

One website says the Vinoy is haunted by at least two ghosts.  The Lady in White roams the 5th floor.  She is said to be the spirit of a socialite murdered by her wealthy husband when he pushed her down a flight of stairs.  Now until the end of time she walks the hallways in a long flowing white dress with a look of Adrian Gonzalez-like dismay frozen upon her face.  On the 4th floor, a tall man dressed in a long tuxedo coat and a top hat stands and stares at guests until hotel staff approaches him and he disappears into thin air.

A book titled Haunted Baseball: Ghosts, Curses, an Eerie Events has a free preview of their chapter on the Vinoy Hotel. The author says rumors of fires, mysterious deaths and lonely-heart suicides that took place in the hotel decades ago are unsubstantiated but the stories of specters scaring ball players are quite common throughout the league.

The players report seeing transparent entities in clothing from bygone eras in their room, the feeling of an entity pressing down on their chest, plumbing turning on and off, clocks being unplugged, garments being moved about the room, paintings coming to life, scratching from within the walls, locked doors opening then slamming in the middle of the night and even aged coins dropping into the tub mid-way through a shower.  I only have an explanation for the coins because I heard a very similar story on This American Life (see Act Three).

In the Vinoy Hotel chapter only one former Padres player is mentioned.  Starting pitcher Joey Hamilton is said to have experienced paranormal activity when he was playing with the Blue Jays in his post-Padres career.

Joey Hamilton and Billy Koch chimed in that they’d been spooked that previous night, when the lights in their rooms kept flickering.

I reached out to a handful of Padres employees who often travel with the team to see if I could gather any more evidence of the baseball hauntings.  Besides a story of Mentor contracting food poisoning from a bad batch of shrimp tempura and coming close to haunting the Vinoy himself, I was left with nothing.

Nothing, until I heard back from Fox Sports San Diego Host/Reporter and Miss Florida 2012 Laura McKeeman.  Says she:

"I did have an encounter at the Vinoy..."

Symbolically, McKeeman manifested herself from the ether, speaking in low guttural tones, with a flashlight illuminating her chin and casting shadows upon her face.

"I walked out of my room and down the hall..."

No doubt it was approaching the witching hour when she abandoned the relative safety of her room and sashayed her way into the long, lonely hallway.  Beneath the floral printed rug the aging wood floor creaked with each step.  I see her now, clothed in a modern dressing gown, but holding the room's antique candelabra in one hand, an empty bucket in the other, in search of the hotel's pre-war ice machine.

When she was equidistant from her room and her destination, the lights in the corridor were extinguished, suddenly and without warning.  She froze in the pitch black as a chill crept up her spine raising goosebumps upon her flesh.

"...the lights turned on and then off again..."

It seemed like she stood there for an eternity.  Just as her eyes adjusted to the dark, the hallway would again be flooded with light. It was then that her pupils darted towards the movement at the end of the hall.  She gasped.

"...I definitely saw someone slyly moving down the hall.  Very Casper like..."

A legless apparition perhaps, with a contorted torso, demonic smile and glowing red eyes stealthily gliding out of sight around the corner, leaving only its ghoulish chortle to echo the halls.

"...but totally could have been a maid."