Why Aren’t There More Baseball Ghosts?
After staying awake all night, writing about baseball and listening to the creek of the floorboards, I naturally started to think about baseball ghosts. Namely, why there aren’t more of them. Sure, there are a few here and there, like the former ballplayer in Iowa that steals underwear, or the ghost of Edward Matt who keeps his stirrup socks on even in death (and that’s one ghost I’d like to befriend), but really, you don’t hear about them very often.
Which, when you consider the 150 year history of baseball is strange. After all, there have been on-field deaths, ballplayer suicides, ballplayer murders—the usual stuff that creates ghost stories. And just consider some of the stadiums: Fenway is over 100 and Wrigley nearly so. Think of all the people to have passed through there, players, fans, team employees, security guards. You would think some of those spirits would have hung around, either to make a ruckus or just to catch a few free ballgames.
A few ideas for why this may be the case:
- Ghosts aren’t real. Okay, if we want to start with this fact, well, that would certainly sum it all up. However, we must then discount not only the few ballplayer ghost stories we’ve heard, but all ghost stories for all time. Not saying this isn’t possible, just that this is what you have to consider.
- There are baseball ghosts, but most don’t remain in uniform or don’t leave enough ballplayer clues. As crazy as this is to me as I’d imagine I would never remove my uniform if I was a baseballer, most players just want to live a normal life when they’re not on the field. So Whitey Ford could be hanging around this plane, but just wants to go the mall and get a Wetzel’s Pretzel.
- The stadiums are too loud and noisy. This would explain why we don’t notice anything while at the park. Maybe Ted Williams is hanging out in left field at Fenway or Babe Ruth is now bumming around the empty park across from Yankee Stadium. But with all the rush and hullabaloo, no one really can notice.
- Because baseball celebrates its history constantly, during every broadcast and game, ghosts feel no need for their stories to be told. Chances are quite high that Vin Scully has told it every time the team comes to town.
- Baseball is about failure and how a person can respond to it. Since most ghost stories are borne out of failure, either personal failure or, in the case of murder, failure to complete your satisfactorily complete your life, perhaps a ballplayer’s spirit is more accustomed and prepared for never ending unhappiness and regret. Therefore, no unfinished business.
- Field of Dreams Scenario: Maybe that cornfield out in Iowa really does house thousands of baseball spirits, all just itching for a chance to play catch.
- Space ghosts. Maybe baseball players are a different kind of ghost and their spirits get sent out into space, to populate the cosmos with dingers and strikeouts.
- Roger Angell was right and ballplayers can defeat time.
- Maybe there are baseball ghosts swirling around my head right now, laughing at me for my inability to hit even the slowest of fastballs.
- The ionization rate inside and near baseball stadiums is in too much flux for ectoplasmic entities to take hold.
I don’t know, man, those all look like pretty good scientific answers to me.
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