By Allison Jornlin

Major League Baseball (MLB) players have reported a wide range of paranormal activity at the Pfister Hotel including object manipulation, electrical anomalies, as well as the holy grail of paranormal phenomena, apparitions. Some have admitted to their experiences publicly and some have confided in others, who later leaked details to the press. 

As reported in Sports Illustrated, in 2001, Adrian Beltre, then with the L.A. Dodgers, described several eerie happenings during his stay at the Pfister. First he heard knocking in the hallway and on his door, but upon investigation found no one there. Later Beltre witnessed the air conditioning and the TV repeatedly switch itself off. When he went to bed, he was startled awake again and again by pounding noises from behind his headboard. Beltre resorted to taking a bat to bed with him for protection and reported that he only slept two hours over the course of his three-night stay. 

Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee – Photo by Paul Sableman

MLB reports wouldn’t resurface until June of 2008, when Carlos Gomez, then of the Minnesota Twins, experienced something strange in his hotel room before a day game. Disembodied voices caused Gomez to peak out from the shower. He found no one in his room, but did see his iPod, which he had left on a table across the room, switch itself on. Loud static broke the quiet and the iPod began vibrating wildly, shimmying towards the edge of the table. Gomez ran over to catch it before it fell to the floor. Once he grabbed it, it switched to music and then back to static again. Gomez turned it off and placed it back on the table, only to see the iPod repeat the same behavior.

Pfister Lobby

In May 2009, the Palm Beach Post revealed that whenever the Florida Marlins stay at the Pfister at least 4 players demand to double-up and share rooms for fear of the ghost. Later that spring, Brendan Ryan of the St. Louis Cardinals reported seeing a strange apparition at the Pfister. He said a “moving light” passed through his room, followed by a temperature drop that chilled him to the bone. However, Ryan eventually retracted his statement. Then in June of 2009, Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants divulged that one night during his stay he awoke at 3 a.m. and witnessed his hotel room door open and shut on its own.

Inside the Pfister Lobby. Photo courtesy of David Wilson.

In July 2009, an AP article included a story from Brewers visiting clubhouse manager Phil Rozewicz. A “rookie ballplayer” reportedly told Rozewicz that he had awoke in the middle of the night to discover the blinds and the window in his room were open. He shut the blinds and the window only to wake up in the morning and find them open again.

Then on July 6, 2010, Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants returned. He and teammate Edgar Renteria made news when they abandoned the rest of the team behind to avoid reliving the previous year’s frights. They checked into the nearby Intercontinental.

The newer tower of the Pfister. Where the baseball players stay. Photo by Corey Coyle.

C.J. Wilson of the Texas Rangers revealed the most detailed account of paranormal activity at the Pfister to-date. On June 15, 2010, during an interview on an ESPN radio show. C.J. Wilson said that he heard scratching on the walls of his room at the Pfister, which sounded like a key scraping down wallpaper. He also reported intermittent problems with his room lamp, which at one point began flashing wildly on and off “disco style.” 

Other teammates experienced similar problems with the lighting and one was locked out of his bathroom. Colby Lewis awoke at about 1:30 a.m. and saw a frightening skeletal apparition in his room. He was so shaken up by what he saw that, according to C.J. Wilson, he spoke with the team chaplain about it the next day. Afterward, Colby Lewis asked C.J. to fill-in for him on the previously scheduled radio interview with ESPN and so far has not spoken publicly about his experiences at the Pfister. In all, according to Wilson, “4 or 5 guys had odd experiences on various floors.”

On August 11th, 2009, I invited to stay at the Pfister Hotel as the guest of the general manager. I brought my husband and brother along. Here are some of my brother, Mike Huberty’s notes about our unsuccessful attempts to have our own paranormal experience:

8pm Hang out at Pfister Hotel
We stayed in room 210, which is the same room that the crew from the Today show stayed in when they did their Pfister story last week.

9:30pm Wander around the Pfister
The Grand Ballroom and seventh floor was the only really empty floor and we did some EVP and looked around for ghosts like any proper Scooby gang. There were EMF spikes near the elevators and also in the center of the floor that connects the new and old buildings. These spikes could easily be explained by normal causes like electrical wiring. We didn’t see anything too weird, but my camera was acting funny in the Grand Ballroom. I would turn it on with the nightshot and it would immediately turn off. This happened to me the first time when we went in and also the second time I crossed the threshold. After those times, it worked fine and it wasn’t really repeatable, but it was pretty interesting.

11:30pm Blu
Blu is the bar on the roof of the Tower section of the Pfister. There were a couple of musical Irish guys who were at the corner of the bar, getting drunk and trying to get everyone to sing along with them.

There’s a great view of downtown Milwaukee from the bar and our server was really nice. She said that the newer section wasn’t the haunted part, but the older section was (This contradicts what some baseball players report about paranormal activity on the 19th floor of the tower.). Anyway, the waitress said that she’d never seen anything, but that we should go down and ask at the front desk to see if anybody’s seen Guido (Charles Pfister’s father, whose bust is in the lobby, but he had been long dead before the hotel was opened in 1893.)

1:15am Bed Time
We hadn’t seen anything and there were no weird temperature changes or EMF spikes in the room. I was tired and we fell asleep right away.

9:15am Pfister Hotel tour
With 25-year concierge, Steven Mortensen. Interesting guy and it was cool to learn that the grand hotel experience in the 19th century was much like a cruise ship. It was a place to socialize and a place to meet people. It was a city within the city where business would take place. I like that idea of everything being so formal and structured. It sounds like such an interesting kind of society and one that we’d have little idea about how to operate in. Especially when someone could decline being introduced so that if they offended you, you declined an introduction to them and then you just would act like they didn’t exist. A little talk about Charles Pfister’s ghost being seen in the lobby, but not enough for me. And nobody wants to talk about haunted baseball players!

For Milwaukee’s original and best haunted history tours, please visit http://www.milwaukeeghosts.com