Tampa Bay has never been kind to the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only has Tropicana Field been a “house of horrors” for the Toronto Blue Jays, but the terrors used to follow the team away from the ballpark.
On account of the Jays being back in Tampa Bay for a series, I figured this a good time for an impromptu Flashback Friday on the infamous Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg, Florida.
For many years, the Toronto Blue Jays stayed at the Florida Renaissance Vinoy Resort. In fact, many MLB teams set up camp at the Vinoy when travelling on the road to Tampa Bay. But several players and coaches have come forward with the same complaint – the hotel is haunted.
And we’re not just talking “creaky floors, creaky doors” haunted. Not quite “The Shining haunted”, but definitely “1408 haunted”.
There are many paranormal tales of the Vinoy since its inception in 1925. But in particular, we’ll focus on incidents involving Toronto Blue Jays players. This first one pertained to former Blue Jays reliever John Frascatore.
He recounted an incident at the Vinoy when his wife and son had an eerie encounter in Tampa Bay. An excerpt from “Haunted Baseball: Ghosts, Curses, Legends and Eerie Events“.
Frascatore rushed to the locker room, grabbed his cell phone and called his wife. She answered in a shrill voice, “You get the travel secretary on the phone! I’m not staying in that room anymore! That room is haunted!
Then five-year-old Gavin reported something strange. “Mom, the water keeps turning back on.” Kanadria headed into the bathroom to find that indeed, the water was on. She shut it, turning the knob tight. Moments later, water was again flowing from the tap. Again she shut it off. Over the next couple of minutes, the faucet turned on by itself repeatedly and the toilet flushed three or four times.
Francscator shared his wife’s incident with teammates, some of whom looked for a rational explanation: the old wing has old pipes, they figured, and water pressure could rattle the faucet open. John rejected this: “that whole place was gutted and redone recently. New plumbing – new paint – new sheetrock – new everything.”
That’s like the twist ending you discover at the end of the film. Just when you think it was all a dream, or they imagined being visited by spirits, you learn the hotel was entirely renovated and is still haunted.
But John Frascatore wasn’t the only Blue Jay in the late 90s/early 2000s to have a paranormal experience at the Vinoy Hotel. Frascatore’s teammates also recalled similar experiences at the hotel (also from “Haunted Baseball”):
Pitchers Joey Hamilton and Billy Koch chimed in that they’d been spooked the previous night when the lights in their rooms kept flickering. Several teammates echoed similar complaints, including hitting coach Cito Gaston, whose hotel room door, which he’d locked and chained shut, kept opening in the middle of the night and then slamming. Manager Jim Fregosi reported that his door, too, had slammed.
Once might be an anomaly. Twice is a weird coincidence. But when five players/coaches on the same team have similar encounters? It’s time to get the hell out of that hotel.
But there’s one more! Jose Cruz Jr. of the Blue Jays also had some advice for Cliff Politte when the bus rolled up to the Vinoy:
On the trip to the hotel with the Blue Jays, righthander Cliff Politte recalls, “Jose Cruz Jr. got on the bus PA system and told everybody, ‘Hopefully you guys got sleeping pills, because this hotel is haunted!’
Update: Thanks to Jennifer for pointing out that Joe Biagini mentioned the Vinoy several times in this interview from last September. What Joe was subtlety getting at was this – the Blue Jays still stay at the Vinoy.
Baseball players lose enough sleep travelling on the road for 81 games every year, which causes many sleepless nights. Add the supernatural to the equation and it makes Tampa Bay an even scarier place to play for the Blue Jays.