The Scariest Curses, Legends and Ghost Stories in Sports

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2014

The Scariest Curses, Legends and Ghost Stories in Sports

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Don't look now, but Halloween is just over yonder, itching to get loose. It's time to load up on witches' brew, candy corn and throw yourself into a sugar-induced coma.

    Halloween wouldn't be the same without curses, ghost stories and other terrifying ordeals. For sports fans, we've seen our fair share over the years. The world is a weird place and around this time of year, it gets even weirder.

    Get ready, because it's time to check out some of the craziest curses, ghost stories and scariest things in sports.

The Ghost of Eddie Plank

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    Associated Press

    Eddie Plank from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was a Hall of Fame pitcher who left baseball in 1917.

    Plank passed away in 1926 but as the story goes, his spirit still lives on. It's fitting that a guy from Gettysburg would haunt the house he occupied before his death.

    Don Barone, contributing to at the time, went hunting for Plank's ghost. When he arrived, he spoke to the man who lived in Plank's old home.

    "Peter Stitt, a Gettysburg College professor and editor of the Gettysburg Review, was sleeping with his wife, and their dog named Roscoe Tanner (long story, don't ask), when he heard a strange noise coming from downstairs," Barone logged.

    Another time those noises were more specific in nature. "The ball would sometimes hit the glove, bounce off the wall, and the catcher would run after it and pick it up," Stitt told Barone.

    Sure the story seemed crazy, but when you consider it took place in Gettysburg, it wasn't as far-fetched. A few years later, authors Dan Gordon and Mickey Bradley debunked the story as being nothing more than a hoax.

    Still, like we said, it's Gettysburg. That place is permeating with ghosts. For all we know, Plank told the professor to recant his story one night when he was slinging heaters in the family living room.

Curse of the Billy Goat

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    STEVE MATTEO/Associated Press

    What happens when you eject a man from Wrigley Field in 1945 for coming into the game with a stinky goat? The Chicago Cubs get a curse put on them preventing them from winning another World Series.

    After the people at Wrigley tossed out Billy Sianis—owner of the Billy Goat Tavern—from the game, he was livid. He told the world that the Cubs weren't going to win anymore, and turns out he was right.

    The Cubs have suffered many trials and tribulations since Sianis initiated the curse. The collapse of 1969, the 1984 team losing to the San Diego Padres and of course, Steve Bartman.

    How could we forget Bartman reaching over the stands and robbing Moises Alou of a difficult catch?

    It's been a tough road for the Cubs their fans, but all hope isn't lost. With each passing season, they have a chance to do big things. No matter how nasty of a curse Sianis and his filthy billy goat laid at their doorstep, it's never over until it's over.

The Milwaukee Brewers and The Pfister Hotel

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Haunted hotels are scattered all across the landscape of this great country. Most of these possessed places have been broadcast to us through night vision cameras and books.

    But what happens when professional athletes tell us tales of horror? For plenty of guys who've stayed in The Pfister Hotel getting ready to play the Milwaukee Brewers, those stories are actual nightmares.

    Stacey Pressman of ESPN The Magazine (h/t talked to a host of MLB players about their experiences staying in the hotel. Bryce Harper, Brandon Phillips, Pablo Sandoval, it doesn't matter who it is. Each player who commented had some spooky story to tell.

    Based on their experiences, this is probably a good time to point out that if you're staying in the Milwaukee area, it's best you steer clear of The Pfister Hotel.

Bobby Layne Puts a Hex on the Detroit Lions

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    Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions have long-suffered since they traded former quarterback Bobby Layne in 1958.

    At the time of the trade, Layne was 31 years old and management wanted to move on from the guy who helped them win back-to-back championships a few seasons earlier.

    Greg Barber of wrote about the curse of Layne. In it, he talked about one possible reason they traded him to Pittsburgh: "In 1957, Layne suffered a broken leg and watched from the sideline as Tobin Rote guided the Detroit to its third league title in six years."

    Considering what happened, management wasn't wrong to get rid of Layne. The problem was Layne disagreed, and when he told the media the Lions wouldn't win for 50 years, well, that's when the curse took shape.

    Over the first 50 years he was traded, the Lions had the worst winning percentage in football. They also have never played in a Super Bowl.

    The curse technically expired in 2008, but the Lions haven't been able to do much since. Until they get to play in the big game, fans can always shift the blame to Bobby Layne. 

The Langham Hotel and Their Ghosts

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    The Langham Hotel is considered one of the most spectacular establishments in all of London, England. It's also one of the most haunted.

    When England's cricket team went there, they experienced how scary of a place it can actually be. According to Sam Peters of the Daily Mail, several members of the team were "convinced their five-star central London hotel is haunted, causing several stars to have difficulty sleeping at night."

    Various players shared their experiences with Peters and all of them were equally disturbing. Look, it may be the classiest joint in town, but if ghosts are rummaging through the hallways, it's definitely getting crossed off my list.

    No one wants to wake up and have to deal with that. Life is too stressful to begin with.

The Gipper

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    Associated Press

    In December of 1920, Notre Dame football star George Gipp passed away just days after his team beat Northwestern. 

    The stories about how he passed are conflicting, but the bottom line is he contracted pneumonia and since it was 1920 and the medical advancements weren't what they are today, he wasn't able to recover despite being 25 years old.

    Years later, President Ronald Reagan played Gipp in the film Knute Rockne, All American and would go on to use the famous "Win just one for the Gipper" line when he was running for office

    In the years that followed, there have been stories about his ghost plodding around on campus. Whether they are true or just a bunch of gossip, it further enhances the legacy of The Gipper.

Frontier Field

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    Frontier Field in Rochester, New York has been deemed haunted by employees and paranormal ghost hunters.

    In the brief documentary featured above, you'll see a bunch of reasons why people think this place is unsettling. As the narrator says in the piece, you either believe in ghosts or you don't.

    But if you do, Frontier Field is a place you're going to want to stay far away from.

The Oklahoma City Ghost

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    Brett Deering/Associated Press

    It's time for all of you to meet Effie. She's a housekeeper at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City who seems to be a big Thunder fan.

    The problem is, we don't know for sure. See Effie is actually a ghost and according to John Branch of the New York Times, she has been playing games with NBA players for a long time now.

    There have been countless recollections of Effie and her shenanigans. "Bill Simmons of ESPN wrote about a fitful night at the Skirvin, startled awake by a baby crying somewhere in his room, he thought," Branch mentions.

    Here's a Halloween costume idea for everyone: Grab your Thunder jersey and dress up as Effie. Who knows, maybe she'll have more of an impact on the team's 2014-15 season than Kevin Durant.


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