The night workers at Fenway Stadium believe Babe Ruth’s presence is more than just a curse. Babe Ruth is believed to haunt Fenway late at night. While no one has seen his ghost, several witnesses account for hearing noises, late night batting practices, and eery muffled cheers chanting his name.
Former Red Sox Owner Thomas Yawkey and Baseball Great Ted Williams used to shoot clay pigeons together in their free time. Former Red Sox pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee claims the day that Williams died, he encountered a pigeon who landed on the ball field. The pigeon wouldn’t leave the field and kept purposely blocking him. Might that pigeon have been Ted Williams? Bill Lee is sure of it! Lee has had many feathered encounters with the departed Tom Yawkey, reincarnated as a bird. He says he has encountered Yawkey in the form of a pigeon in the players’ parking lot at Fenway, as a crow that sits on the fence at Montreal, as a red-tailed hawk that follows him through the woods, and as a crow that dove on him in Medicine Hat . According to Lee, a pigeon that crashed into the seats at Fenway during the final game of the ’78 season may have also been Yawkey.
Red Sox current PA announcer Carl Beane tells why and how the legendary PA announcer Sherm Feller haunts his booth. Feller’s deep baritone voice set the tone at Fenway Park from the Impossible Dream Year 1967 to 1992.
The Curse of the Bambino was a superstitious sports curse that caused the Boston Red Sox not to win the World Series from 1918 to 2004 that’s right EIGHTY SIX YEARS.
This misfortune began after the Red Sox sold star player Babe Ruth (sometimes nicknamed “The Bambino”) for $125,000 to the New York Yankees after the 1919 season. Before that point, the Red Sox had been one of the most successful professional baseball franchises, winning the first World Series and amassing five of the first fifteen World Series titles. In standard curse lore, Red Sox owner and theatrical producer Harry Frazee used the proceeds from the sale to finance the production of a Broadway musical, usually said to be No, No, Nanette. After the sale, they went without a title for nearly a century, as the previously lackluster Yankees became one of the most successful professional sports franchises in North America. The curse became a focal point of the Yankees–Red Sox rivalry over the years.
Although the title drought dated back to 1918, the sale of Ruth to the Yankees was completed January 3, 1920. In standard curse lore, Red Sox owner and theatrical producer Harry Frazee used the proceeds from the sale to finance the production of a Broadway musical, usually said to be No, No, Nanette. In fact, Frazee backed many productions before and after Ruth’s sale, and No, No, Nanette did not see its first performance until five years after the Ruth sale and two years after Frazee sold the Red Sox
Leigh Montville wrote in The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth, the production No, No, Nanette had originated as a non-musical stage play called My Lady Friends, which opened on Broadway in December 1919. That play had, indeed, been financed as a direct result of the Ruth deal. Various researchers have pointed out that Frazee had close ties to the Yankees owners, and that many of the player deals, as well as the mortgage deal for Fenway Park itself, had to do with financing his plays.
Before Ruth left Boston, the Red Sox had won five of the first fifteen World Series, with Ruth pitching for the 1916 and 1918 championship teams (he was with the Sox for the 1915 World Series but the manager used him only once, as a pinch-hitter, and he did not pitch). The Yankees had not played in any World Series up to that time. In the 84 years after the sale, the Yankees played in 39 World Series, winning 26 of them, twice as many as any other team in Major League Baseball. Meanwhile, over the same time span, the Red Sox played in only four World Series and lost each series in the seventh game.
Some loses that people blame the curse of the
- In 1946, the Red Sox appeared in their first World Series since the sale of Babe Ruth and were favored to beat the St. Louis Cardinals. The series went to a seventh game at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. In the bottom of the eighth inning, with the score tied at 3–3, the Cardinals had Enos Slaughter on first base and Harry Walker at the plate. On a hit and run, Walker hit a double to very short left-center field. Slaughter ran through the third base coach’s stop sign and beat Boston shortstop Johnny Pesky’s relay throw to home plate. Some say Pesky hesitated on the throw, allowing Slaughter to score, but Pesky always denied this charge. Film footage is inconclusive, except that it shows Pesky in bright sunlight and Slaughter in shadow. Boston star Ted Williams, playing with an injury, was largely ineffective at bat in his only World Series.
- In 1949, the Red Sox needed to win just one of the last two games of the season to win the pennant, but lost both games to the Yankees, who would go on to win a record five consecutive World Series from 1949 to 1953.
- In 1978, the Red Sox held a 14-game lead in the American League East over the Yankees on July 18. However, the Yankees subsequently caught fire, eventually tying Boston atop the standings on September 10 after sweeping a four-game series at Fenway Park, an event known to Red Sox fans as the “Boston Massacre.” Six days later, the Yankees held a 3 1⁄2 game lead over the Red Sox, but the Sox won 12 of their next 14 games to overcome that deficit and force a one-game playoff on October 2 at Fenway Park. The memorable moment of the game came when light-hitting Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent cracked a three-run home run in the seventh inning that hit the top of the left field wall (the Green Monster) and skipped out of the park, giving New York a 3–2 lead. The Yankees held on to win the playoff game, 5–4, eventually winning the World Series.
- In Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, Boston (leading the series three games to two) took a 5–3 lead in the top of the 10th inning. Red Sox reliever Calvin Schiraldi retired the first two batters, putting the team within one out (and shortly within one strike) of winning the World Series. However, the New York Mets scored three runs, tying the game on a wild pitch from Bob Stanley and winning it when Boston first baseman Bill Buckner allowed a ground ball hit by the Mets’ Mookie Wilson to roll through his legs, scoring Ray Knight from second base. In the seventh game, the Red Sox took an early 3–0 lead, only to lose, 8–5. The collapses in the last two games prompted The New York Times columnist George Vecsey to write articles describing the Red Sox as cursed.
- In 2003, the Red Sox were playing the Yankees in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Boston held a 5–2 lead in the eighth inning, and manager Grady Little opted to stay with starting pitcher Pedro Martínez rather than go to the bullpen. New York rallied against the tired Martínez, scoring three runs on a single and three doubles to tie the game. In the bottom of the 11th inning, Aaron Boone launched a solo home run against knuckleballing Boston starter Tim Wakefield (pitching in relief) to win the game and the pennant for the Yankees.
- Red Sox fans attempted various methods over the years to exorcise their famous curse. These included placing a Boston cap atop Mount Everest and burning a Yankees cap at its base camp and finding a piano owned by Ruth that he had supposedly pushed into a pond near his Sudbury, Massachusetts farm, Home Plate Farm.
- In Ken Burns’s 1994 documentary Baseball, former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee suggested that the Red Sox should exhume the body of Babe Ruth, transport it back to Fenway and publicly apologize for trading Ruth to the Yankees.
- Talk of the curse as an ongoing phenomenon ended in 2004, when the Red Sox came back from a 0–3 deficit to beat the Yankees in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series (ALCS), and then swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series.
- Some declared the curse broken during a game on August 31, 2004, when a foul ball hit by Manny Ramírez flew into Section 9, Box 95, Row AA and struck a boy’s face, knocking two of his teeth out. 16-year-old Lee Gavin, a Boston fan whose favorite player was Ramirez, lived on the Sudbury farm owned by Ruth. That same day, the Yankees suffered their worst loss in team history, a 22–0 clobbering at home against the Cleveland Indians.
- Some fans also cite a comedy curse-breaking ceremony performed by musician Jimmy Buffett and his warm-up team (one dressed as Ruth and one dressed as a witch doctor) at a Fenway concert in September 2004. Just after being traded to the Red Sox, Curt Schilling appeared in an advertisement for the Ford F-150 pickup truck hitchhiking with a sign indicating he was going to Boston. When picked up, he said that he had “an 86-year-old curse” to break.
And then on October 27th, 2004 the Sox won the world series in 4 games against the Cardinals and it was a big f-ing deal.
Interested in learning morning about haunted baseball parks?? Check out our episode “Haunted Baseball Parks” published in April 2021 available wherever podcasts can be found or by clicking HERE