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​Huggins-Stengel Field
Baseball field, park
St. Petersburg
March 31, 2011


Huggins-Stengel Field
Baseball field, park
St. Petersburg
March 31, 2011

What is more American than baseball, apple pie, and Hallowe’en?  Only in this country can we find a combination of all three – and in one place!  St. Petersburg hosts one of the oldest known baseball fields in the United States, established in the 1920s.  The name of the field is taken from two famed historic players from the turn of the twentieth century, Miller Huggins, who played with the Cincinnati Reds, and Casey Stengel, a superstar with the Brooklyn Dodgers. 

The field later served as a Spring Training facility for the Yankees.  Part of the reason for the Yankee’s choice relates to the enigmatic person of Babe Ruth.  Known for his extreme rowdiness, the Yankee owners wanted to take him to a place where there was little to no action.  St. Petersburg certainly fit that bill.  However, nothing would stop Ruth from having a good time.  Ruth simply brought the party with him.  Babe Ruth is one of the personas said to haunt this ballpark, though spectral manifestations are sometimes reported with the Vinoy, Fleur-de-Leon, and other assorted hotels in the city.

During this time, other greats came to St. Petersburg, such as Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Whitney Ford, Nolan Ryan and Wade Boggs.  They congregated in the locker room, which was a building later converted into offices.  It is currently in use, and some claim to hear voices late at night, doors which open and close, and a few even pick up the scent of cigar smoke when no one is around.  

The SPIRITS of St. Petersburg were only permitted to investigate the ball park.  We came during the daytime as the field is still used for local sporting events.  The park manager spent quite a bit of time with us, discussing various events that take place on the field.  One time he saw a gray man, dressed in a baseball uniform, who walked through the all of a building and vanished.  He heard stories of radios turning themselves on and off at night, and has heard a few of the mysterious voices speaking around him.  

We walked the field, going from the outfield to the infield, and around all of the bases.  Equipment showed no readings.  We continued to walk to the dug outs, and the home team area actually did attract us.  Several reported feeling watched in the area and that there was a greater energy there.  EMF did go off, but it seems likely that there was electrical interference more so than supernatural manifestation.

The field was investigated by one person prior to us, who was also granted permission to record EVPs in the office building overnight.  Though we had contact information, this individual never responded to our request to learn what the EVPs said.  The office also did not respond to our attempts to request setting up equipment in the building.

Overall, however, regardless of the ghosts and legends, the history of this baseball field is remarkable.  It is always amazing to determine how strong a role St. Petersburg played in national history.   Only here, in this unsuspecting place, can we find players of the past intermingling with players of the present in an old baseball park hidden in the middle of the city.

​Brandy
1. What was your role in this investigation? (Please check one)
Investigator (general)

2. What equipment did you use on this investigation?
Thermometer
Digital camera
Audio recording devices

3. What phenomena did you experience on this investigation? (Please check all that apply)
Other (please specify below)
Comment: None

4. In review of the footage, recording, or photographs taken at the location, which of the following did you find? (Please check all that apply)
No unusual occurrences at all

5. What technical observations did you note during the investigation? For purposes of categorizing data, please post your first name, followed by your response.
Brandy: None, really. There are some power lines that may be interfering with the readings on the EM meter. We attempted an EVP and the meter spiked on several different questions, multiple spikes. However, this is likely due to electronic phenomena in the area. We had spikes to "Are you hear with us", "Is there more than one entity in this room","Male", "Female", "Live in building", "Die in building", "Die of accident", "Murdered", "Commit suicide", "Last year that you remember" and "Message to pass on". Ages: 5 -10, 40-50, 60-70, 70-80, 90-100. We did ask "Is this Casey" (spike), recognize Charlie (none), Do you walk the field (spike). I need to review the EVPs fully to see if I can find any correlations to these spikes.

6. What sensitive observations did you note during the investigation? For purposes of categorizing data, please post your first name, followed by your response.
Brandy: None

7. What researched/historical information did you learn about this location? For purposes of categorizing data, please post your first name, followed by your response.
Need to get: "Haunted Baseball" by Mickey Bradley The field was used by: Yankees: Babe Ruth, 1920-1950s Mets: 1962-68 (Don Zimmer was there, Casey Stengel, manager, related to this are). Periods unknown: Astros, Indians, Mets (again) Oreols: 91 - 94 Devil Rays: 97-2000 Currently: It is the home field for St. Petersburg High, Youth League and Adult and Senior leagues. In 2001, the old clubhouse was renovated. It now houses the TASCO group. They removed the lockers, though they did leave one locker up with uniforms to give a "feel" as to how the old clubhouse was. The grounds keeper's office is the original baseball manager's office and has a desk that belonged to Casey, according to legend. Despite the original legend that I heard, tentatively called "Casey at the Bat" -- in which a manager died on the field -- there are no known deaths on the property. We interviewed C. Lockett, who started to work at Huggens Field in 2000. He reports: Hearing doors shut, smelling cigar smoke (10 - 9 - 08) (Others have reported it too). He saw someone go through a wall several years ago. This was a gray figure. He hears noises and tools have been moved (but it could be that others are using them). Believes that there is a story from the Devil Rays in which an A/C unit or a TV came on by themselves. Lockett: the first manifestation he had was out in the field. He saw a small man out of the corner of his eye standing by the home team dugout. He looked again and there was nothing there. He believes that this was "Casey", the former Mets manager. Reports that a woman was asking questions and wanted to go into the building (now the TASCO building). She had a dog with her and the dog would not go inside -- refused. This was abnormal behavior for the dog. 2 - 3 weeks ago, Lockett was eating lunch and saw someone come out -- a tall figure -- from a locked area. It moved between the original clubhouse. Smell: Old machinery, baseball smells (clubhouse smells). Reports that "Bobby", an employee, was showering in the clubhouse and a light fell down over his head very suddenly. He hears the sounds of doors opening and creaking. He also says that the door to his office, which was originally the old manager's office, will lock on its own. We also interviewed Bob Spittle, Parks Operation Foreman. He was hired to spend the night in the clubhouse and said he had a terrible time getting to sleep. He was uncomfortable and could not sleep without an aid. He finally turned on the TV to have some noise. In the TASCO building we were told that a man also attempted to leave recording devices in the building to see if he could pick anything up. He got an EVP saying "You're talking too loudly"....I have contact information and will follow up with it.

8. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the haunting of this location? Note on scale: 1 represents "no haunting", 5 "moderate haunting" and 10 "extremely haunted"?
5

9. What issues does the review team need to address with the occupant (homeowner, business owner, resident)? What aspects of the investigation need to be re-addressed, retested, or clarified?
I am fascinated by the daytime manifestations. Just based on the amount of

10. Is there any other information that you would like to add about this investigation? For purposes of categorizing data, please post your first name, followed by your response.
I am hopeful that we can get info from the other individual who went to the location to try for EVPs. I would like to try to leave equipment behind as well.

Book Review, Brandy Stark
“Haunted Baseball:  Ghosts, Curses, Legends and Eerie Events”
By Mickey Bradley and Dan Gordon

Admittedly, I am not a sports fan.  However, even I must acknowledge the spot that baseball holds in the hearts of Americans – so much so that the fans and players who give life to the game also give it afterlife.  “Haunted Baseball” is a unique look at the haunted history, curses, and supernatural natures that fall into this pastime.

For the St. Petersburg area, and as I am the founder of the SPIRITS of St. Petersburg, three areas of the book particularly caught my interest.  The first chapter had in-depth information on an investigation that we did several months ago on Huggins-Stengel Field. In fact, our interviews with various staff manning the park led us to this book; they recommended it highly to us.  Indeed, it was worth the purchase.   Not only had the authors interviewed many of the staff that we had, they presented comprehensive and well-researched information on the park.  I was amazed to learn that a place I had walked by and observed for nearly 20 years was this remarkably historic.  Huggins-Stengel Field is one of the oldest baseball fields in the United States.  Founded in the 1920s, it was a Spring Training facility for the Yankees.  According to the authors, Babe Ruth was so rowdy that the owners wanted to put him somewhere where he could not get into much trouble.  St. Petersburg was a sleepy southern town at that time and, with the ballpark, was the perfect non-troubling Spring Training facility for the Babe (p. 4 – 5).  Ruth’s legacy was joined by other greats over the years, such as Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Nolan Ryan, Wade Boggs, and many others. As we know, anywhere that history touches, ghosts are left behind.  Babe Ruth has been seen at the field by one worker.  Some also see baseball coaches of bygone eras.  Even the old buildings, where the team locker rooms once were, still buzz with paranormal activity.  Some claim to hear voices late at night, doors open and close, and even cigar smoke blows through when no one is around to smoke them.
Connected to the field is another chapter dedicated to the Vinoy.  Rumor on the street has it that “Ghosthunters” is going to investigate this resort, which also housed, and still houses, numerous baseball players.  The Vinoy is a local hotspot of activity.  The ghost tour that I do talks about this “Grand Dame” of downtown as possessing a multitude of ghosts, including the “Nefarious Gentleman” and the “Lady in White.” Some players refuse to stay in certain rooms that they believe are haunted, though the Vinoy historian, oddly, is quoted near the end of the chapter saying that she does not believe the place is haunted.

A third chapter, listed under the “Curses” section, also hits one more home team point:  The [Devil] Rays.  I loved this chapter as it detailed questions that some Tampa Bay sports fans have been wondering for years:  is the Tampa Bay area cursed?  Our sports teams do notoriously badly in this regions, remaining years on the bottom of the roster, spiking every now and then to potential greatness only to spend the next eon back on the “bad” list.  The “Devil” Rays (now just “The Rays”) fit into this history.  The question falls to the stadium, which, rumor has it, was built upon tenement lots, which were, in turn, built upon former graveyards.  While the remains were allegedly removed, some believe that the workers were not that careful in removing the dead.  The cemeteries in the area were also known for poorly marked tombs; could someone have been left behind? Is the stadium haunted?  Is it cursed?  (If so, that really would explain a lot about the team!)  Perhaps 2008 and 2009 will change that.  The Rays, after dropping the “Devil”, did better this year than they ever have in the past…was it simply a quirk with the name?

The remainder of the book takes the reader all over the U.S. to various sports teams, haunting activity, superstitions (it turns out that ball players are quite superstitious), cremains, and curses.  It is a fascinating journey for layman and fanatic alike through the dark side of baseball.  After getting adjusted to the topic, the book was addictive.  It is a fun and easy read, and comes highly recommended by this paranormal investigator.

“Haunted Baseball” is available in many bookstores and online through Amazon.com.  The listed cover price is $14.95.

“Field of Screams” (Haunted Tales from the Baseball Diamond, the Locker Room, and Beyond)
By:  Mickey Bradley and Dan Gordon
Review by:  Brandy

The authors of “Haunted Baseball” are back with a sequel.  “Field of Screams” is nearly three times the size of the original book, with more tales of baseball superstitions and ghost stories.  As with “Haunted Baseball”, I continue to maintain that I am not a baseball fan.  The last game I saw was a minor league game and, with the exception of the company present and the ambidextrous pitcher, I was not enthralled.  Yet, according to this book, the very stadium that I was in had a death on the premises and is supposed to be haunted.  Had I known, perhaps I could have slipped away to do a bit of para-investigation during the 7th inning stretch!

The book does detail several sites that the SPIRITS have investigated, including the Crystal Bay Hotel, Higgens-Stengle Field, and the Biltmore (investigation never posted).  I actually have a cameo story in this book in the section on Babe Ruth, which is always a pleasant surprise.

The book, overall, is absolutely worth the read.  Like the first book, it does hold reader interest.  Note, however, that “Field” is considerably longer; I did find that there were times when my baseball intake was full and I had to take a break from the reading for the day.  Nonetheless, it makes me appreciate this all-American sport a little more!  I will say this, too:  Unlike the first book, this one details teams outside of the United States.  I was fascinated to learn of the Shinto-based rituals performed by Japanese baseball players.  I also found the typical “vanishing hitchhiker” story repeated for Latin American teams to be equally fascinating, especially as a side interest of mine is urban legends.  

The book has a very humanistic feel to it.  The players seem down to earth, as do other guests quoted within.  It is an excellent read, and one that I would highly recommend for both the sports enthusiast and sports newbie alike!

 FYI:  From Netscape.com:
Origin of Baseball may not be all American:

Baseball was probably derived from “Rounders,” a game played in Ireland since the fifteenth century. 
By the eighteenth century, rounders incorporated many of the basic elements of modern baseball: two opposing teams with one in the field and one batting; successive batters trying to hit a small ball and then make the “round” of four bases to score. Three strikes and you’re out! 

During the 1820s-1850s, Irish immigrants brought rounders with them to the New World, where local variations developed. In the Massachusetts variant, the batter stood between home plate and first base, and the opposing team could “out” someone by beaning them with the ball. Runners weren’t required to stay on the baselines, meaning there was an element of “tag.” The Philadelphia game gave us the familiar diamond-shaped field and nine players to a team. 

In 1845 it was decided to standardize the rules of New York’s game. The Knickerbocker Rules decreed nine innings and said any “knock” outside the lines of first and third base was foul. In 1858 they added the “strike zone,” and in 1863 they added the automatic “walk” after four balls.

For a while, the Knickerbocker Rules also required underhand pitching. Of course, the biggest surprise might be that until 1865, Knickerbocker Rules also allowed fielders to out the batter by catching the ball after one bounce. This was mostly for safety purposes since the game was still played without gloves or protective gear. 




Updated 3/12/2018:  I was at a meeting hosted by the TASCO building, once the dugout that the famous baseball players used to use.  As I was attending the meeting, I could not easily investigate the building.  I stayed mostly in the main room.  I brought my EMF meter, which read a consistent "0" reading on the 0 - 3 scale.  

The TASCO staff introduced the building and the gentleman talked briefly about the ghosts (I knew of them because I assisted the author of "Haunted Baseball" with his sequel and thus got both books).  They also print up the materials on the ghosts in their handouts on the building ("Huggins-Stengel Complex History" found on the front tables as one enters the building).  

The information is as such:

The building is from 1925.  Baseball greats who were in the building include Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Roger Maris, Joe Gooden, Nolan Ryan, and Willie Mays (among others).  

The field is alleged to be haunted by Babe Ruth who, as reiterated above, is said to be seen sitting in the dugout (near 3rd base) at sunset.  

The building is alleged to have haunted activity, including the smell of cigar smoke at night and early in the morning (Huggins smoked the cigars and they attribute the aroma to his ghost).   

Items move:  Pictures fall, lights turn on, water runs in the bathroom.

A mysterious "brown spot" exists in the areas where Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio played.  Each manifested at the time of each man's death (5 years apart). 

I had not read the sheet before coming home and did not know about the bathrooms.  I did have to use the restroom during the meeting but there was no unusual occurrence in the women's room. (And this is good!) 

Phone calls in 2011 and 2013 were not returned.  I have been told that one employee there has done his own investigation and EVPs of the building.  In 2017, one person knew that they were doing a ghost hunt with the teenagers in the building.  My name was mentioned but I remained uninvited to do any form of investigation at the building.  I have left a card as an attempt to follow up again this year. 

I did take photographs of the room and famous baseball players that they have displayed on the walls.  Feel free to view and review!


In the adjacent neighborhood - 

Crescent Lake Apartments (1924): You have to go back in time for this one. The original property here was a residence sold to F.W. Van Dusen who moved in in 1924. He rented a few spare rooms to baseball players from Miller (Stengel)-Huggins Field. The Yankees came down for spring training. Babe Ruth is sometimes rumored to have stayed here. He added more rooms and opened the Crescent Lake Apartments in 1928. He enclosed several garages and by 1933 this was a 3-story apartment building with 53 efficiency apartments. Each floor had a common hallway ending in two washrooms. The one on the left was form women, the one on the right was form men. Each contained a claw foot tub, toilet, and sink. These were typical accommodations for hotels before a/c and TV. There was also a shuffleboard court for use. The apartments had several issues, including economic turmoil and a major fire in 1976. The fire claimed the lives of three people who were trapped on the third floor and jumped to escape the flames. Two died on property, one at the hospital. Six others were injured, and four were critical. There were no side exits, no rear fire escapes and most of the residents were elderly. The second floor was heavily damaged and there was smoke and water damage to the first and third floors. Several law suits were resolved, and the apartments were operational again in 1978. This time, a rear exit fire escape, alarm system, and fire stairwell were installed. However, the economic issue pulled the apartments into a steady decline. They were bought and sold several times, and finally closed in 2001. They were demolished in 2004 and made way for 4 new town homes completed in 2005.