All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Jerry Narron and the Haunted House

There's a new book out, called Haunted Baseball. It was originally scheduled to be published around Halloween, but I guess they moved it up, because my pre-order from Amazon arrived already.

The authors interviewed hundreds of players and managers, asking them to share their true ghost stories. It's as much about baseball tradition and history, and the fun and camaraderie of baseball life, as about ghosts.

There's a lot of great stuff in it, and I'll probably write a proper review of it later.

In the meantime, here's one of the stories. It has both a Yankees and a Reds connection, since it involves recent Reds manager Jerry Narron, back when he was a young catcher for the Yankees.

Unsafe at Home

While pitching for the Yankees in the late 1970s, [Ron] Davis shared a home in Dumont, New Jersey, with catcher Jerry Narron. "We didn't have any money," recalls Davis. "Minimum wage was $19,000." A Realtor friend offered an abandoned house that was going to be torn down at the end of the year. The ballplayers could live in it for free.

The house had been empty for a while and was creepy. "It had no water, no gas. We had Coleman stoves we were cooking on," recalls Davis. "We used a skeleton key to open the door." Millie Davis - the pitcher's girlfriend at the time, who would eventually become his first wife - never felt comfortable in the house. "I think it was condemned," she says. "It was old and dusty and scary." She tried to brighten the place up, but "no matter what I did to it, it just always looked spooky and creaky and scary as hell. That place gave me the creeps." The very first night the couple spent there was marked by a ghostly event. They got home late from a game and climbed the stairs to the bedroom. Entering, Millie reached up for a light switch in the middle of the room. "Right as I reached my hand up, the window flew open," she says. On its own, the heavy wooden frame suddenly shot straight up, bringing in a gust of cool air. The couple was stunned. Ron turned and ran down the stairs, and Millie followed him. "You're leaving me here to get killed by the ghost?" she yelled.

"We never slept in that room again. We never went in that room again," she says. After the window incident, "I wouldn't even go upstairs to the bathroom by myself."

Ron tells an even scarier tale. One night, he claims, he, Millie, Narron, and Narron's girlfriend came home and were walking up the stairs when fire instantaneously broke out around them.

"Just flames in the hallway - everywhere in the hall," he says. The ballplayers ran out to the street, abandoning the women ("I said somebody's got to live to tell this story," Ron jokes) and called out for help. In time, the fire and police departments responded, but to everyone's surprise, "the fires went out." As quickly and mysteriously as they'd begun, the flames suddenly extinguished themselves.

"We went in and there was nothing burnt; there was nothing charred," says Davis. "No one could figure out anything." But eventually Davis did learn more about the house itself, and why it had been abandoned. "There was a family of five that was killed there," he says. "And no one would ever move into it."

I'd love to ask Narron about this story!

And wow. They were only paid $19,000? That's not much, for the New York area. Even taking inflation into account, I can't believe they were expected to live on that.

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posted by BubbaFan, 11:15 PM


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