Ghost Stories in Cooperstown
“After I sent the email to the Hall of Fame,” says Samantha Tengelitsch, “I said to my husband Chris: ‘We’ll never hear from them now.’”
However, Samantha’s summer email was responded to by library intern Cassidy Lent, and has sparked research which still continues – and produced a pretty good ghost story for Halloween.
Samantha was very interested in a career minor leaguer named Edward Matt, who played from 1909-1913 for seven different minor league teams in the upper Midwest, including Traverse City, Mich., where Samantha and her family now live. But Ed Matt is not a distant relative, so why the interest?
“Edward Matt is a ghost in our house,” Samantha wrote.
The family moved into the house in the summer of 2011, and by the fall, they realized they were not alone.
“I knew nothing about baseball before this.” Samantha notes. “I was coming up the stairs, and there was this man, with baggy pants, horizontally striped socks, and a baseball cap that looked very old-fashioned, with a shorter brim than they have today.”
Eventually, through multiple sightings, Samantha and Chris were able to converse with the ghost, and learned his name was Edward Matt, and that he had lived in their home when he played for the Traverse City Resorters of the Michigan State League in 1912. The Resorters’ ballpark was a block away.
After the first sighting, the couple went to the historical society and the library, and learned that Matt had signed a contract in December of 1913 with the Chicago White Stockings, but was released in February the following year. When they asked him why he was released, he responded “I fell.”
Where had he fallen, they asked? “Freemont Freesoil,” came the response. Later they learned that the towns of Freemont and Freesoil were consecutive stops on the train line from Manistee, Michigan to Chicago, where Matt may have been headed to report to the White Stockings.
The couple decided not to mention the ghost to their 10-year-old daughter, Ava, in order to not frighten her. But then she saw him too.
“I feel like Edward Matt wants us to tell his story,” Samantha wrote in her initial email. The story continues to unfold, though details of Matt’s playing career, his injury, and even his obituary remain sketchy and incomplete.
Samantha, Chris, and the library staff are continuing to check into Ed Matt’s career, and hopefully more details will emerge.
“It’s not our role to judge people’s motives for wanting baseball information,” said Hall of Fame Librarian Jim Gates, “It’s our job to help them.”
Anyone with any leads on Edward Matt is encouraged to contact the research department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether the mystery is ever fully solved, there has been a happy result for Samantha and her family already.
“I was one of those people who thought baseball was really boring,” she says. “But now we love the game. We started playing as a family, and we love coming home from work and relaxing by watching a baseball game.
“It took an act of God or a supernatural experience to get me to watch a baseball game, but I am coming to understand what a wonderful, great experience baseball is.”
Tim Wiles is the director of research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum