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Rays’ trip to Milwaukee may turn into a ghost story

The team is staying at a historic hotel considered in baseball circles to be haunted.
The Rays' Yandy Diaz may be looking over his shoulder a lot as the team stays in the supposedly haunted Pfister Hotel while in Milwaukee.
The Rays' Yandy Diaz may be looking over his shoulder a lot as the team stays in the supposedly haunted Pfister Hotel while in Milwaukee. [ CARLOS OSORIO | AP ]
Published Aug. 8|Updated Aug. 8

MILWAUKEE — Some Rays are not sleeping easy this week.

The Rays are staying at the historic — and supposedly haunted — Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Which means the players who are easily spooked and/or into paranormal interactions are a little concerned.

Yandy Diaz, the Cuban infielder with the bulging muscles, is one of the players most afraid of ghosts. And he made the mistake of letting that be known, so naturally his teammates seized on it.

A print-out of a cartoon ghost was taped to Diaz’s locker in Detroit on Sunday with the Spanish word cuidado — “watch out” — written on it.

Diaz considered moving to a different hotel, but was assured he would have a room in the new — and thus not haunted — tower of the landmark hotel that was built in 1893.

“All I want is (to not) have any ghosts in my room,” said Diaz, via team interpreter Manny Navarro.

Outfielder Roman Quinn said he heard stories of several “encounters” from his former Phillies teammates who made regular visits: Of seeing the impression on a bed of a person sitting there, of clothes being placed in one spot and moving around the room when the player stepped out, of people in hallways disappearing on second look.

The Pfister is Milwaukee's most regal address, having hosted every U.S. president since William McKinley and scores of celebrities. Today it's the place to stay for upscale business travelers and out-of-town visitors, including many Major League Baseball teams.
The Pfister is Milwaukee's most regal address, having hosted every U.S. president since William McKinley and scores of celebrities. Today it's the place to stay for upscale business travelers and out-of-town visitors, including many Major League Baseball teams. [ MORRY GASH | ASSOCIATED PRESS ]

Ji-Man Choi has been quoted about seeing ghosts at the Pfister (and other places) in some detail. The experiences are even included in his bio in the Rays media guide, which says he “is terrified of ghosts and believes to have had many encounters with them, including hugs and whispers.”

Choi says now that there was some miscommunication with a previous interpreter that got picked up repeatedly, that he was more concerned with how “dark and a little sketchy” the Pfister looked when he stayed there with the Angels as a rookie in 2016 than it being haunted.

“If I see a ghost,” Choi said last week through interpreter Daniel Park, “I’ll say ‘Hi’ to him.”

The Pfister, along with St. Petersburg’s Vinoy Renaissance Resort, are often talked about in baseball circles for the occasionally odd, and potentially paranormal, experiences. Both are featured in the book Haunted Baseball: Ghosts, Curses, Legends & Eerie Events.

Pitcher Ryan Yarbrough expects it to be an interesting few days as the Rays make their first visit since 2011.

“I’m not too concerned,” he said, only somewhat convincingly. “I’m not saying I don’t believe in any of that. I just feel like if you don’t try to overly concern yourself with it, maybe bad things won’t happen.

“But no, I think it’s fine. I think certain guys are very intrigued and some guys want nothing to do with it. So I’m just trying to be even-keeled about it. But Yandy is the guy.”

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This being baseball, more pranks — basic ones like rattling door knobs and some likely more sophisticated — are to be expected. That’s aside from manager Kevin Cash joking that maybe a ghost encounter could get Diaz out of what is now an 0-for-20 skid.

“I’m sure something will happen, I’m not sure what,” Yarbrough said. “We’ve got some funny guys on our team.”

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