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Original Issue

Team Spirit

Is an English soccer stadium haunted? It wouldn't be the first time players felt spooked

When English soccer team Sunderland recently suffered a surprising loss at home to end an eight-match winning streak, they came up with a decent excuse: They're pretty sure their stadium is haunted. Before the game, Sunderland striker Marcus Stewart reported seeing a strange black shape lurking in the corridors of the Stadium of Light, as did two trainers. One theory is that they saw the ghost of an 18th-century hermit named Spottee, who is said to haunt the area. If so, he's hardly the sports world's only specter. A few others:

Wrigley Field
The Cubs' run to the 1998 playoffs was so improbable that even the team's owners thought there might be something supernatural going on. On the theory that the Cubs were receiving help from beyond the grave--Harry Caray (right), their longtime announcer, had passed away just before the season--a crew of ghostbusters was called in. They found all sorts of paranormal activity in the bleachers but, alas, none in Harry's old booth. And some people have reported seeing the ghost of folksinger Steve Goodman (a rabid Cubs fan whose ashes were buried beneath home plate in 1984) in the stands.

Talladega Superspeedway
Local lore holds that the Alabama track--where huge wrecks are common--is built on a Native American burial ground. During the 1973 Talladega 500 driver Bobby Isaac heard a voice tell him to get out of his car, so the Hall of Famer pulled into the pits and quit the race.

Washington Hall, Notre Dame
According to legend, George Gipp missed his curfew one winter night in 1920, so he slept on the steps of the building that houses the school's theater department (left). The Gipper died of pneumonia a short time later. Over the years there have been several reports of a broad-shouldered apparition lurking in the vicinity.

Barnsley Gardens
The golf course north of Atlanta is said to be built on a site cursed by Cherokees. Godfrey Barnsley began building his estate there, and within months his wife, Julia, died of tuberculosis. Some say her ghost dwells near the entrance.

Frontier Field
The home of the Triple A Rochester Red Wings was the first stadium ever to be certified haunted, when the team hired a group of "paranormal investigators" to examine it last September. At one point during their visit the researchers found themselves in a standoff with the so-called "negative entities," photographic evidence of which can be found on the team's website. --Rebecca Sun