17 Apr 2009
Sox' hotel in St. Pete a popular haunt
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- There's a reason why White Sox teammates Brian Anderson and Carlos Quentin shared a hotel room during a series at Tampa Bay last season.
There's a reason why former Sox outfielder Nick Swisher spent four nights at teammate Toby Hall's house in Tampa last May.
And there's a reason why equipment manager Vince Fresso checked out of his room on the fifth floor late Wednesday night and was moved to a new room.
The fact is, everyone likes a good ghost story. And some even believe them.
For years, the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg has been the hotel for teams visiting the Rays. For even longer, stories have persisted that the hotel is haunted.
There's the one about former Reds reliever Scott Williamson awaking to see a mysterious undertaker-looking man in his room, then having an entity hold him down by his chest so he couldn't breathe -- only to find out the next day that the hotel once was owned by a man named Williamson who died in the Vinoy in the 1920s.
Or the one about Pirates strength coordinator Frank Velasquez waking up in the middle of the night to see a blue-eyed man standing in front of his desk, wearing clothing from a much earlier era.
Or the one about the woman who was murdered in Room 521 and has been seen roaming the fifth floor by numerous workers and visitors.
The stories go on and on, to the point where more than a handful of players and coaches won't even stay at the hotel.
Former Sox third baseman Joe Crede and a few other teammates told those ghost stories to Anderson and Quentin last season on the bus ride to the Vinoy, and by the time they arrived, the two decided they should be roomies for the series.
Anderson tried to downplay the story before Thursday's Sox-Rays game.
''We got in late, we wanted to get a good night sleep and we figured, hey, if something does come about, as a unit, we can team up against it,'' Anderson said.
So he and Quentin were scared of something happening?
''No, I don't believe in that stuff,'' Anderson said, ''but we kind of looked at each other and said, 'Let's just get a room, man, and we'll share it and we can get a good night's sleep.'
''Everyone was chattering about it on the bus, so we were like, 'Dude, let's just get a room together. I don't want to deal with this, even if someone messes with us.' We just wanted to get a good night's sleep.''
During this series, Anderson is sleeping by himself like a big boy -- but in the Guest Towers, the newer, non-haunted part of the hotel.
Jermaine Dye also was thinking about having his room changed to the Guest Towers after Thursday's game, even though he's on the third floor of the main hotel.
The only members of the Sox' party currently on the fifth floor of the main hotel -- considered the hot spot of the hauntings -- are MLB.com writer Scott Merkin, who has promised to make any female ghost his Facebook friend if he sees one, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who dared any ghosts to come into his room.
Pierzynski has three rooms on the fifth floor for his family but wouldn't say if he has Room 521 because he doesn't want his teammates harassing him.
''If I do have 521, maybe I'll put my kids in there,'' Pierzynski joked.
Now the kicker: The Sci Fi Channel show ''Ghost Hunters'' investigated the Vinoy last July, and according to one of the hotel workers, since the TV crew left, ''there has been a beehive of paranormal activity, especially on the fifth floor.''
Sounds like a fun weekend.
Can any of them play center field?