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From Skeptic to Believer / Haunted Baseball

Date: 10-10-10
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Gary Jansen, Mickey Bradley, Dan Gordon

During the first half of the program, Ian Punnett was joined by author Gary Jansen, who discussed how his experiences living in a haunted house caused him to go from a skeptic to a believer. Jansen traced his tale back to childhood, when his family moved into the house in Rockville Center, Long Island. Very early on, he said, the house would "snap, crackle, and pop" with various unexplained sounds including footsteps and whispered names. While his father was dismissive of the ghostly happenings, Jansen's mother eventually told him that she "got an impression" that there was an old woman in the house, walking around the first floor. Despite this revelation from his mother, Jansen remained skeptical to the possibility of spirits both in general and in the house. "I tended more toward the rationalist way of looking at things," he reflected.

However, Jansen's perspective changed dramatically later in his life, after he purchased the home from his mother and moved into the haunted abode with his wife and son. A darker series of events began in March of 2007, he recalled, after his wife had a miscarriage. Following that, the previously subtle ghostly signs became more blatant, frequent, and disturbing. Ultimately, Jansen reached his breaking point after he was at the home alone and the doorbell kept ringing, just as it had when he'd lived there as a child. Seeking answers, he contacted ghostbuster Mary Ann Winkowski, who provided a cold reading of the home and sensed both the old woman his mother had described as well as a man who had recently died. When Jansen investigated further, he found out that this man had died the very same day that Jansen's wife had miscarried. Looking back on how his transition unfolded, Jansen mused, "even though my intellect is saying 'no, no, no' the whole time, there's something else saying 'yes, yes yes, there's something going on here.'"

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In the latter half of the show, Dan Gordon and Mickey Bradley talked about the weird and haunted world of baseball. Having spoken to countless professional baseball players, Gordon expressed surprise at how forthcoming the athletes were about sharing their ghost stories with the authors. "We didn't know what to expect," he said, "but, right away, players warmed up and started talking." They observed that these ghost stories are seen as a rite of passage, handed down from grizzled veterans to rookies just breaking into the big leagues. Bradley and Gordon shared tales such as the widespread belief amongst players that the spirits of former New York Yankee greats help will the contemporary team to victories, balls that mysteriously disappear in the outfield ivy at Chicago's Wrigley Field, and ghost stories accrued from years of traveling on road trips. "The same hotels came up over and over, when we talked to players, as places that are said to be haunted," Bradley noted.

One story that the duo recounted was from superstar pitcher Roy Halladay. According to Halladay, he was staying at a hotel in Scranton, Pennsylvania during a stint in the minor leagues and, being exhausted, quickly went to bed. However, he soon "woke up to the sound of water gushing full force from the bathroom faucet." Meanwhile, the TV had been turned on and a "putrid smell had filled the room." Thinking he'd merely not noticed these things before going to sleep, Halladay turned the faucet and television off and went back to bed. As he was starting to doze off again, the lights in the room turned on and the toilet flushed. A spooked Halladay called down to the front desk and promptly switched rooms. "That's the kind of thing that we hear from players all the time," Bradley said, "bizarre stuff happening in their rooms."

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