Take Me Out to the (Haunted) Ballgame

October 24, 2018

Sports stadiums in the U.S. are historic buildings, with some dating back to the early 20th century or beyond. And you know what they say, the older a building gets, the more likely it is that ghosts are hanging out there. Here are some spooky sports stories.

George Gipp

The University of Notre Dame was a football powerhouse in the early 20th century, and its legend only grew with the classic 1940 film, Knute Rockne, All American. Named after a Notre Dame coach, it’s most famous for Ronald Reagan’s role as George “The Gipper” Gipp, the school’s first All-American, and still one of its biggest stars. In November 1920, he stayed on the field hours after the last game of the season, giving others punting lessons. It was so cold that he contracted both pneumonia and strep throat, and he died from his illness that December. (In the movie, a dying Gipp implores his teammates to “win one for the Gipper.”) After he died, doors on campus opened and closed without cause, and an identified French horn played throughout the night. Give years later, students claimed to have seen the ghostly specter of George Gipp riding a horse.

Jimmy Hoffa

It’s a long-standing urban legend that the late, disappeared Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa was buried in the end zone at Giants Stadium. (In fact, before the venue was demolished, Mythbusters looked for the body and couldn’t find it.) But Hoffa wasn’t even a Giants fan—he was a diehard Detroit Lions supporter. Apparently, his distinctive voice has been heard all over the Lions’ Ford Field during games.

Owen Hart

Professional wrestling is largely staged, but tragic accidents can happen. In 1999, Owen Hart was being lowered by wires into the ring at a match in Kemper Arena in Kansas City. But the equipment malfunctioned, and Hart careened to the hard floor, and he died from his injuries. Poor Hart apparently still can’t leave Kemper Arena. Employees say they’ve spotted a costumed wrestler walking around the venue’s rafters who bears an uncanny resemblance to Hart.

Herbert Chapman

Arsenal is one of the more historically successful soccer teams in the U.K.’s Premier League, with 13 championships to date. Those all came after Herbert Chapman took over as team manager in 1925, and built the team up to the British soccer equivalent of the New York Yankees. But then he unexpectedly died in 1934 at the age of 35. The cause of death: pneumonia, likely due to his insistence on attending three outdoor games during a single week in January. His cold got worse, and he died. At Arsenel’s old stadium, Highbury, numerous people reported hearing steps walking through the tunnels, believed to be the restless ghost of Hebert Chapman.