Ghouls and Game 3 make for rare pair
Fall Classic stretches to Halloween for just second time
PHILADELPHIA -- Happy Halloween.
They're dressing up as baseball players this year.
The hottest 2009 costumes are the Yankees' road grays and the Phillies' home whites, clean at first and dirtier after each inning, about to be seen in Game 3 of the 105th World Series, which comes to Citizens Bank Park at 7:57 p.m. ET on Saturday.
For only the second time, two popular and all-hallowed traditions are converging on Oct. 31. It last happened in 2001, when the Yankees and D-backs played Game 5 of the World Series right into Nov. 1, and here we are again in a city where "boo" now means something more.
"I could get some kind of vampire superpowers, you never know," Phillies Game 3 starter Cole Hamels said Friday, which was a workout day at Citizens Bank Park. "They could help me hit the ball out of the ballpark and throw the ball straight through the catcher."
"I'd normally be home waiting for kids to knock on the door," Yankees catcher Jose Molina said, "but this time, I'll be here. I'll take this a million times before being home waiting for kids to knock on the door."
Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said he had some Halloween plans that he is all too happy to break.
|1.5||Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium||Four times|
|9||Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium||2000|
|15||Ebbets Field, Yankee Stadium||Seven times|
|22||Candlestick Park, Oakland Coliseum||1989|
|98||Memorial Stadium, Veterans Stadium||1983|
|108||Citizens Bank Park, Yankee Stadium||2009|
"Me and my lady, we were going to go to a costume party as inflatable sumo wrestlers," he said. "That would have been a lot of fun. But I'd rather be here. I'm sure the fans will have a good time with it. Obviously, it's going to be a sea of red out there. Halloween, man! Hopefully there's going to be a full moon. That would just put the icing on the cake."
He almost gets his wish. Monday is the official arrival of a full moon. Whether the clouds will clear enough to see it getting closer on Saturday night remains to be seen: There is a 70 percent chance of showers at game time and at least the same probability thereafter. What we do know is that there will be lots of candy on this night, lots of ballpark dogs, lots of peanuts, lots of great baseball, lots of FOX television viewers and a scary story or two.
That brings us to Phil Coke. Stop by locker of the Yankees reliever, sit right down as we did before New York took batting practice on Friday, and he will give you the shivers as he tells the tale of a young boy named Phil Coke growing up in the sparsely populated mountain town of Upper Crystal Falls, Calif., in the old gold country, an hour or two due east of Modesto. Even Robinson Cano stopped by the locker to hear this one.
(Reader warning: This may scare young children. Be afraid, be very afraid.)
"I used to like trick-or-treating as a boy. Up until the age of 9 or 10," Coke said. "And then this person scared the crap out of me so bad. He went crazy in his front yard. He had all these little hiding spots that, in the daytime if you'd see it, it's like, 'OK, that's not a big deal.' He had path lights going up to his door. Well, he had them turned off, and the little section of hedges, there were all these spots in there that you could hide in.
"He had these strobe lights going off ... spiderwebs by the door ... this creepy music in the background ... and he had a fog machine and everything, so the fog was rolling down the front steps.
"And he pops out of the hedges!"
At this point, Coke was doing everything but pointing a flashlight up from the floor onto his face as he continued to tell the scariest story of this World Series.
"He has a skeleton kind of garb, and it glows, when the light catches it right, it really stands out," Coke continued. "Oh my god -- that guy scared me so bad. I couldn't go trick-or-treating after a certain period of time ever again.
- 2009 Regular Season
- Overall: 32 GS, 14-8, 4.16 ERA, 148 K, 76 BB.
- Overall: 32 GS, 10-11, 4.32 ERA, 168 K, 43 BB.
- Key stat: Allowed 193 H in 194 2/3 IP.
- Key stat: Opponents hit .273 off Hamels.
- 2009: 3 GS, 2-0, 2.37 ERA.
Career: 38 GS, 16-9, 3.83 ERA.
- 2009: 3 GS, 1-1, 6.75 ERA, 6 HR. Career: 9 GS, 5-2, 3.36 ERA.
- At CITIZENS BANK PARK
- 2009: No starts. Career: 2 GS, 1-0, 0.75 ERA.
- 2009: 17 GS, 7-5, 3.76 ERA. Career: 56 GS, 27-17, 3.43 ERA.
- Against this opponent
- 2009: 1 GS, 0-0, 5.14 ERA. Career: 7 GS, 2-2, 3.67 ERA.
- 2009: 1 GS, 0-0, 3.00 ERA. Career: 2 GS, 0-1, 2.77 ERA.
- Loves to face: Jayson Werth, 1-for-13, 5K.
Hates to face: Carlos Ruiz, 2-for-3, HR.
- Loves to face: Alex Rodriguez, 0-for-4.
Hates to face: Johnny Damon, 3-for-5, 2B.
- Game breakdown
- Why he'll win: Poise in the postseason.
- Why he'll win: More comfortable at home.
- Pitcher beware: Roughed up by PHI in May.
- Pitcher beware: Yielded 6 HRs in 3 playoff starts.
- Bottom line: Another World Series memory?
- Bottom line: Can he keep it in the yard?
"He tried to come in and apologize to me, and I was all messed up. It was bad. He got me good. I was 9 or 10. It was a very traumatic experience. It was probably 8 o'clock at night, so it wasn't really late, but he got me. Boy, did he get me."
Coke said he made a vow: "I'm not going to be that guy who jumps out of his hedges and scares the crap out of some unsuspecting little kid. Because I remember what that was like, man. I wouldn't want to make a little kid cry like that. I bawled my eyes out. It messed me up good. I mean, it's funny now, but I didn't like that guy. I never went back near that house."
Well, it turns out that right across the clubhouse' there were two Yankees who are, in fact, "that guy who jumps out of his hedges and scares unsuspecting kids."
Johnny Damon and Chad Gaudin.
They are Coke's worst nightmares.
"I like to get out with the kids and every now and then hide behind the bushes and scare the kids who actually think it's going to be an enjoyable treat coming to my house for Halloween," Damon said, describing what he would be doing on Halloween.
"Normally I'd be taking the kids out trick-or-treating, but I sent them all home to Florida so they could actually enjoy Halloween. Being at a ballpark, for kids, probably isn't the best place, so they get to enjoy getting candy back home."
Gaudin, still in the mix as a possible Game 4 starter for the Yankees -- manager Joe Girardi was noncommittal Friday when asked whether CC Sabathia would come back on three days' rest -- said he would be "either at my house with a costume on, scaring trick-or-treaters, or hanging out with some friends or family."
And if it was time to scare some people, then he knows what costume to grab.
"The Michael Myers mask. Just the mask. That's all you had to have, just the mask," he said. "It glowed in the dark, too. I had that for probably ... that was the last-minute go-to. I still have it. I should break it out [for Game 3]. That would be sweet."
Damon went from the interview to the field to refine his swing and continue the important preparations for what the Yankees hope will be a 27th World Series championship. Meanwhile, a little part of him was thinking about his kids' costumes.
Baseball players are like everyone else when it comes to Halloween, at least for the most part.
"I have an Elvis, I have a puppy dog, I have a cat, and -- the oldest daughter always changes, so she's probably going to be some sort of dancer back in the Elvis era," Damon said, describing his kids' costumes. Then he added, "Yes, we have a cat and dog."
Last year for Halloween, Damon was part of the band Slipknot.
"It was actually a very good costume," he said. "I had my wife and friends dress up as Slipknot with me."
Damon said he does not usually leave autographed baseballs, just in case you are ever one of those people in his 'hood.
"I try to avoid the autograph stuff," he said. "I have passed out some cards in the past. But I would normally just give handfuls and handfuls [of candy] so the kids just keep coming."
The Phillies scheduled a Halloween event in their family lounge at Citizens Bank Park so that the players' significant others and their children could partake in the fun that most people will get to enjoy -- at least when they aren't watching the Game 3 action. About 40 kids are expected for that party in a lounge that will be made over with a spooky cave motif, while the Dads are busy trying to move toward repeating as champs.
"I'm just excited to be playing this late in the year," Phillies catcher Paul Bako said. "I don't care when the dates are. Sure it's cool to be playing on Halloween. But just the fact that we're the last two teams playing is pretty exciting in its own right."
It will be a night to remember, that much is certain. Jorge Posada will have to just get by without his usual mountain of chocolate candy that he enjoys keeping from his kids' annual trick-or-treating loot. Derek Jeter will not be able to dress up as Prince's "Purple Rain" character, as he did once upon a time. Hamels will have to go through the usual motions as he throws the game's first pitch, and just wait and see if he turns into a vampire.
It's the World Series.
Someone just may say "boo" here in Philadelphia on this night.
That's a scary thought.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.