There are ghosts in the stadium (very long) - Moonmadness [20:03:46 09/30/15]
I was an 18 year old freshman at OSU when I went to my first Buckeye football game in the fall of '75. I honestly can't remember who we played. I was on a track scholarship and we got free tickets to the game. The seats were up in C deck on about the 40 yard line. I thought they were pretty good seats. I walked over to some of my new teammates apartment early Saturday morning for what would become a tradition, a couple of beers before the game and a few more after. On our way to the game and as we waited for the light at Lane and High an older gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He was there with his wife and we talked as we walked. He had graduated in 1935 and told me how lucky I was to be at OSU. It was the best times of his life. He told me about his friends and the great times and adventures they had. His wife just nodded as he spoke. He told me his degree was the most important thing he had...the wife frowned until he turned and said, "next to you dear". I listened as I looked around at what looked like a small army of scarlet clad infantry moving West. They moved in clusters and yelled O H and GO Bucks at each other. When we arrived at the stadium the man patted me on the back and told me to enjoy the win! Then he smiled and said, "you know, there are ghosts in that old gray stadium". And he disappeared into a mass of humanity pushing toward the gates. I have thought about that often. I had not heard of Ohio Stadium being haunted. And as the years went by I had never again encountered anyone telling me about ghosts moaning or shaking chains in the press box or the tower.
I spent a lot of time in that stadium. I went to every game I could and cheered with my buddies. They used to let us go to an area near the band room after the games and eat all the hot dogs that were not sold at the game we could handle. There was a track in the Horseshoe at the time. That's where we practiced and where we ran our home meets. I ran some great races there and saw some great races run. I also saw a few things I still chuckle about. One of our guys we nicknamed the bear was a big boned guy, but he ran distance. He was pretty good, but not quite good enough to make the competition team so he decided to try to steeplechase. But he couldn't hurdle. So he ran a few races anyway. He would run up to the hurdle, but his hands on it and jump while straddling it. This was not effective on the hurdles but was disastrous at the water jump. The Bear would fall into the pit with a monstrous belly flop and wade his way out. Funniest thing I had ever seen. I also remember the time Woody decided to put a ramp across the endzone. In the spring the football team practiced the same time we did. So I got to know a bunch of the players. I even roomed with a WR named Ty Hicks for a while. The ramp was about 10 feet on one and and at ground level on the other. Woody had his players joking up the ramp then sprinting down. I asked on of the guys what in the work Woody was trying to do and he told me, "Woody thinks running down the ramp is going to make us run faster". We looked at each other for a few seconds before bursting out laughing. The ramp only lasted a few weeks before it disappeared, never to return. I even worked at the 'Shoe for a year. My job was to keep kids from necking in the walkway around the top of the stadium. Someone had committed suicide a few years prior by jumping from the walkway. I did catch a few couples up there and chased them off. I never saw or heard a ghost.
Year later, during the 2002 championship run, my Father had not been feeling well so I decided to take him and Mom to a game just to spend some time with them. I took my brother as well who is a huge fan. Everyone liked my Father. He is the type of guy that would make you feel like you were a long lost friend after just meeting him. Always quick with a story or joke, he truly liked people. So I dropped them off at the stadium with tickets and went to park in the intramural fields. When I got to the seats my Dad was gone. My Mom explained he was there and then was just gone! I walked down looking for him several times and even talked to security. They would find him if he was wandering around under the stadium. At halftime as I was getting up to go back down to look for Dad there he was. He had been sitting in the student section. He told them that they were in his seat but he would let them stay. They young people took care of him and told me they enjoyed having him around, but thought we would be worried. They all laughed and shook the old mans hand. It was the last game I ever took him to. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's a month later and was never the same. He was in Hospice four years later. It was my watch, and he was sleeping as he usually did. But he woke up for a few minutes and amazingly recognized me. He called me over and in a faint whisper said "don't feel sad for me son, it was a great life, thanks for taking me to those Buckeye games...*
I will be going back to Ohio Stadium again in a few weeks. the tradition still stands. Except I don't drink Miller or Buds before a game, I now drink Russian Imperial Stout or some bourbon. When I sit in the stand I still see my friends and teammates raising hell, I see the Bear running the steeplechase. I see Tom Byers running a four minute mile. I see Woody storming up and down the sideline. I see that crazy ramp in the endzone. I see the neutron man dancing in the bell tower and Keith and Eddie running wild down the field. I see my Dad, laughing and smiling and cheering on the Buckeyes. And I see myself, a much younger man with his eyes wide open and whole life still to live...And as I walk to the stadium from the old intramural lots where I still park, I might run into a new student. I would tell him about how lucky he is to be at OSU, and about all my adventures and my friends. I might brag a bit and tell him about lettering four times and some of my athletic accomplishments. And I will tell him how much that degree still means to me. And when we get to the stadium, I will give him a wink and tell him, "you know son, there are ghosts in that old gray stadium..."
That is the best way I can describe who I am.