I wonder how many people here have seen a ghost?
No relief in sight for lefty Williamson hears boos: Ghost story a fright for righty
By Jeff Horrigan
Thursday, September 25, 2003
When the Red Sox (stats, schedule) arrive at their hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla., late tonight, the team will be collectively focusing on exorcising the ghosts of generations past. For relief pitcher Scott Williamson, however, he'll be trying to deal with the aftermath of more recent ghosts Williamson, who was acquired from Cincinnati July 29, had a frightening experience at the hotel the Sox will be checking into later tonight earlier this season and he's leery of a recurrence.
The 27-year-old said he never believed in ghosts prior to early June, when the Reds checked into the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and he had a run-in with a spirit or apparition that still spooks him to discuss today. The team arrived from Cincinnati on June 9 for an interleague series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
(stats, schedule) and an exhausted Williamson checked into his room and immediately fell asleep.
``I was asleep on my stomach and all of a sudden it felt like someone was pushing down on my back and I couldn't breathe,'' he said. ``I thought maybe it was a cramp or something but then I rolled over and looked over at the window and there was this guy standing there.''
Williamson blinked his eyes to make sure he wasn't just imagining it.
``I looked away and looked back quick but he was there,'' he said. ``It was a guy wearing old-fashioned clothes, like something you might see in the 1930s or '20s. He had a top hat . . . and he was just looking right at me. It was almost like he was trying to get a point across to me or something. I jumped up and turned on the lights but he was gone.''
Williamson turned on the television and checked his room. The door and windows were still locked and there was no sign of an intruder. The lights and TV stayed on for the remainder of his stay.
``It was crazy,'' he said. ``Nothing like that had ever happened to me and nothing happened again the next two nights. I know people might think I'm nuts but I know what I saw.''
Williamson reported to Tropicana Field the next day and quietly mentioned to a few teammates what had happened. Pitcher John Riedling overheard and mentioned he'd seen a similar man pass by his room.
Williamson said he understands skeptics will think he dreamed or conjured up the story but he received validation several weeks ago, when teammate Scott Sauerbeck overheard him telling of his encounter. The left-hander was with the Pirates when they followed the Reds into the historic Vinoy and several members of his team had nearly identical experiences.
``I was staying at my house (in Bradenton), so I got it all secondhand the next day, but at least three or four of our guys had the same thing happen,'' said Sauerbeck, who was acquired from Pittsburgh on July 22.
He said bullpen coach Bruce Tanner had an eerie experience that included a dime mysteriously dropping from the ceiling as he showered. Some saw men in their room while a staff assistant ran into a spirit in the hall.
``He was trying to get into his room and his key didn't work but he turned and saw someone who worked at the hotel - or someone he thought worked at the hotel - coming down the hall,'' Sauerbeck said. ``He said the guy was dressed in old-timer-ish clothes and he was going to ask him for help but he turned and the guy was gone. He was really spooked.''
Since word of his encounter got out earlier in the summer, Williamson said that he has been contacted by several people who have had experiences at the Vinoy, which is one of Florida's most historic resorts. Many relayed tales of a fatal fire that struck the hotel midway through last century, which led to it being shut down for nearly 20 years. One report even said that someone named ``Williamson'' was once an owner or manager. Several paranormal Web sites list numerous tales of ghost visitations at the hotel.
``I don't know what the story was with the guy I saw, whether he was killed in a fire there or not,'' Williamson said.
The relief pitcher won't be staying in his previous room. Traveling secretary Jack McCormick has already arranged for him to have a room in the hotel's new tower but the reliever said he'll go back to the old wing if necessary.