Believe in ghosts? Check out Rochester's field

The Minor League ballpark is a site of much paranormal activity

October 31st, 2021
Art by Tom Forget

A version of this story ran on October 31, 2020

"Yeah, I believe in spirits," Rochester Red Wings general manager Dan Mason tells me over the phone. "You know, once in a while, I'll see lights on in suites, like maybe in the middle of the winter, when there's nobody that has been up there. Or there'll be a TV on in one of those suites. Odd things at odd times. It'll be unnerving."

If you really think about it, baseball should be ripe for hauntings.

The game is old; it's been around for 150-plus years with millions of players and fans taking part. You'd have to believe a few diehard spirits may have stuck around. Fenway Park and Wrigley Field have been standing for more than a century -- who wouldn't want to come back to roam those magical confines once more? The Ghosts of Yankee Stadium? The Field of Screams? How do you explain this?

While we can speculate and wonder about paranormal activity happening in and around baseball -- there is only one stadium that's been deemed officially haunted. Horror writers have tweeted about its notoriety. It's been called "the world's first certified haunted sports arena."

It is Frontier Field, home of the Nationals' Triple-A team, the Rochester Red Wings, in Rochester, N.Y.

There are a few stories as to why spirits have decided to infiltrate a 13,500-seat Minor League ballpark in upstate New York. Rumors are that bones were found when land was being dug out to build the stadium back in 1996. Maybe human, maybe not. Mason, who's been with the team since 1990, isn't sure about the bones story ... but he also isn't not sure.

"I don't know if they found bones, but there were a bunch of buildings on the site where Frontier Field is currently located," Mason says. "One of them was an old warehouse and it actually burned down during the construction. It was actually going to be part of the ballpark. They found some old books, some shoes, I think they dated it back to the early 1900s."

He tells me the warehouse was once an old schoolhouse and everybody knows that old schoolhouses from the early 1900s are almost always haunted. But, according to Mason, that doesn't seem to be where the main ghost of Frontier Field hails from.

"There was a paper company that was on the site as well that they tore down to build Frontier Field," he says. "Apparently, they said that there was an old janitor that haunted the paper company and that his spirit didn't leave when they tore it down. It still roams the halls here at Frontier Field."

Don't believe Mason? Well, believe Rochester Paranormal Investigations -- the ghost-seeking society that visited Frontier Field in 2004 and officially stamped it as haunted. There was even an amazing SportsCenter recreation special about it.

Both Director J. Burkhart and Psychic Medium Ms. Lee said ghosts were flocking toward them once they got to the field, but some ghosts were different than others.

"A lot of them came to me and they were like, 'Oh don't you love it here, it's such a great place. Have you seen the baseball yet? We get to watch all the games for free,'" Lee says in the SportsCenter clip.

"I found myself being confronted by two to three very hostile entities," Burkhart says. "They were very belligerent, they were very challenging, they were very threatening."

Burkhart took some photos of the spirits he encountered. The first is a "floating head," while the second is some "floating entities." You may think, 'I can't see anything, this isn't real,' but remember, you're also not a professional ghost expert.

If you're still a non-believer, what about stories from the people who work there on a regular basis?

Clubhouse manager Kevin Johnston told the book "Field of Screams" that he's heard noises going up and down on the stadium freight elevator. He was so scared once late at night that he walked around the hallways with a baseball bat. Head groundskeeper Gene Buonomo, a ghost skeptic, once sprinted out of his office after seeing a dark shadow and hearing loud sounds coming from a storage room. He never leaves the stadium by himself anymore.

Mason also talks about the eerie appearance of crows -- you know, the birds that are a well-known omen of death -- between the months of January and February.

"They're here every day and every night," Mason says, a slight chill in his voice. "There's literally thousands of them. So like, when I leave every night to walk to my car, it's akin to the Alfred Hitchcock movie 'The Birds.' There are thousands of crows in our parking lot and in the trees surrounding the ballpark. That is a little bit creepy."

Mason leaving work at the end of the day might look a little something like this.

So, if you're able to go to game up in Rochester next season, be sure to watch top prospect Cade Cavalli light up the radar gun and eat one of the town's famous Garbage Plates for breakfast, but also, look around the place. Listen for voices, search for floating heads, say hello to the ghost janitor who may pass by you as you make your way to the bathroom.

Ghosts are just like us. Only, well, they're dead.