All Things Bubba

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

Friday, October 31, 2008

Baseball's Most Haunted Hotel

It's the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. (The most haunted baseball field is also in St. Petersburg: Huggins-Stengel Field). According to Haunted Baseball, the Vinoy has such a spooky reputation that some players refuse to stay there.

One who believes the hotel is haunted is relief pitcher Scott Williamson...

Today the Vinoy is the visiting team hotel for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

But movie stars and ballplayers are not the most famous guests at the Vinoy - ghosts are. While some in baseball openly poke fun at the hotel's numerous sightings, for many the fear of uninvited room guests is no laughing matter.

Relief pitcher Scott Williamson had never heard of the Vinoy being haunted when he stayed in an old section of the hotel with the Cincinnati Reds in mid-June 2003. But he ended up with an experience he says he'll never forget. "I turned the lights out and I saw this faint light coming from the pool area. And I got this tingling sensation going through my body like someone was watching me, you know? I was getting a little paranoid.

"Then I roll over to my stomach. And all of a sudden it felt like someone was just pushing down, like this pressure, and I was having trouble breathing. So I rolled back over. I thought, 'That's weird.' I did it again, rolled back on my stomach. All of a sudden, it's like I just couldn't breathe. It felt like someone was sitting on me or something."

This time when Williamson rolled onto his back, he opened his eyes. "I looked, and someone was standing right where the curtains were. A guy with a coat. And it looked like he was from the '40s, or '50s, or '30s-somewhere around that era."

Williamson called his wife Lisa, who worked in an emergency room, and asked if there could be a medical reason for the heaviness on his chest. "She went through all the things that could happen, but obviously hadn't happened. She said 'Why?' And I said, 'I tell ya, the weirdest thing just happened to me.' I told her the whole story."

"ESPN caught onto the story the next day," adds Williamson. "And then a buddy of mine went and did research on it. He came back and told me, 'You're not gonna believe this! There's a guy who died in that hotel. His name was Williamson. He actually owned the hotel property before it was a hotel.' He's going through this whole thing about a fire and all this stuff. I'm like, 'What's his last name?' He goes 'Williamson.' I was like, 'You gotta be kidding me!'"

Other players and coaches have seen the ghost in the old-fashioned clothing. One player's wife refused to stay at the hotel when the water in the bathroom sink kept turning itself on, and the toilet repeatedly flushed itself. Jay Gibbons once set his alarm clock, went to the bathroom to wash up, and came back to find the clock unplugged, the cord draped over the dresser - though the outlet was near the floor. To this day, he sleeps with the lights on when he has to stay at the Vinoy.

Brian Roberts came back to his room, and found the clothes that had been hanging in the closet were on the bed. The maid hadn't been in the room. (And why would she put the clothes on the bed, anyway?)

Perhaps the creepiest experience was Devil Ray pitcher Jon Switzer's. He woke in the middle of the night, to the sound of scratching. When he turned on the lamp, he was shocked to see the painting above the bed had come to life. The woman in the picture, who had been posed with her hand under her chin, was now scratching at the glass, as if trying to get out.

Just a dream? If so, his wife Dana had the same dream, because she saw and heard it, too. They fled the room in the middle of the night.

Happy Halloween!

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posted by BubbaFan, 6:38 AM


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