04/13/08 8:40 PM EST
Yanks unearth Sox jersey from new park
Construction worker's prank was aimed at jinxing Bombers
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
For those who find such superstition credible and feared a Yankees curse, fans may stop worrying. The Bombers yanked the planted Red Sox jersey out of the new ballpark's structure at a photo opportunity ceremony on Sunday afternoon.
Yankees team president Randy Levine and chief operating officer Lonn Trost were present on Sunday at the site, as workers removed the jersey from the solidified concrete of a service area. The jersey, plucked from a two-by-three foot hole, was a home white Red Sox replica bearing Ortiz's name and his No. 34.
In Boston, the Yankees reacted to the news with equal parts surprise and amusement.
"I never pay much attention to all of those things," Derek Jeter said. "But for those who think there are jinxes, I'm happy for them."
"The guy should have kept his mouth shut," Jason Giambi said. "That's what I would have done. He should have waited until it was built, and then there was no way they would have ever found it."
The New York Post reported that the culprit was Gino Castignoli, a 46-year-old Bronx resident and Red Sox fan. Castignoli told the newspaper that he buried the jersey at the construction site last summer while working at the stadium.
The Yankees originally denied the story after their records indicated that the jersey could not have been buried near the Yankees' future clubhouse. Two workers told a construction manager that they remembered Castignoli, and they led the supervisor to a service corridor near the site of the planned Legends Club restaurant -- behind home plate and toward the third-base side.
Levine told The Associated Press that the Yankees at first considered leaving the shirt.
"The first thought was, you know, it's never a good thing to be buried in cement when you're in New York," Levine said. "But then we decided, 'Why reward somebody who had really bad motives and was trying to do a really bad thing?"'
According to the newspaper, workers dug for five hours on Saturday, finding the jersey at 3:25 p.m. ET and notifying Yankees officials. The Yankees plan to donate the jersey to the Jimmy Fund, a charity affiliated with Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and are considering pursuing possible criminal charges against Castignoli.
"We will take appropriate action since fortunately we do know the name of the individual," Trost told the AP.
Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain is a heavy believer in superstition, placing a piece of chewing gum behind the mound when he pitches and refusing to step on the interlocking 'NY' logo that is at the center of the clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, as well as logos painted on the playing field.
But even Chamberlain said that the jersey's nine-month stint as part of the Yankee Stadium structure will not leave any legacy on the building.
"Truth be told, a curse is a curse, if you want to look at it like that," Chamberlain said. "It's just in light of who it was and how it was presented, I think it's a little different than some of the other curses that have been attached to baseball."
Perhaps Castignoli selected the wrong Red Sox star to encapsulate at the Yankee Stadium site. Ortiz went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in Boston's 4-3 victory over New York on Saturday, lowering his batting average to a dismal .070 after 12 games.
Not everyone was happy with the jersey's removal. Ortiz himself said that he would enjoy being part of a curse on the new Yankee Stadium.
"I'd better talk to my witches in there," Ortiz said. "You know what, I'm going to have to call my people in New York and take care of it when everybody is sleeping. You've got to give me a more specific location."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.