Athletes share Halloween memories

Originally Published: October 30, 2009
ESPN.com

  • Check out our photo gallery of some scary sports uniforms
  • As millions of kids get ready to dress up and fill up on candy Saturday, The Life wanted to hear what Halloween was like for professional athletes. Here's what a few said about their favorite costumes and best and worst memories of trick-or-treating.

    [+] EnlargeALF
    Getty ImagesALF loves to devour cats and major-league fastballs.

    Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees first baseman
    "Probably the coolest outfit I ever had was ALF. Remember the TV show?" Teixeira said.

    The Yankees slugger said he was probably about 8 years old when he dressed up as the "Alien Life Form" puppet character from the late 1980s.

    "We bought the mask and I had like a full body suit, like the hair, full body ALF suit, it was pretty cool," Teixeira said.

    His quick and enthusiastic recollection of his favorite costume exuded a sincere fondness for Halloween.

    "The most disappointing time of Halloween is when you get too old to go trick-or-treating," Teixeira said. "You know it's kind of an end of an era as a child.

    "You still want to, but you're way too old to be hanging out with 6- and 7-year-olds going trick-or-treating."

    Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning center
    "A few times when I was younger I dressed up as a girl on Halloween," Lecavalier said. "Yeah, I don't know why. I just put on a big, big wig and some lipstick and, you know, the kids laughed at school, so it was fun."

    The Lightning captain said he was about 7 or 8 years old at the time, "kinda young but it was funny."

    Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees pitcher
    "Oh, man. I guess my favorite would probably just be -- I know it's weird -- I loved the horror movie 'Halloween.' Michael Myers, that thing," Pettitte said. "Growing up, that was kind of a favorite. I never dressed up really for Halloween but if I'd seen that around town I was pretty impressed with that."

    Matthew Lombardi, Phoenix Coyotes center
    "I didn't have much imagination. I was the Grim Reaper I think like five years in a row. It was easy; I had the costume," Lombardi said.

    Having an outfit ready to go every year was part of the appeal.

    "It was made, exactly, so that was my last costume," Lombardi said.

    And growing up in Montreal, it helped to have a loose costume to go over warm clothing.

    "In Calgary [where he played for five seasons before being traded to Phoenix last spring] it snowed almost every Halloween. It's freezing out," Lombardi said. "When I was a kid it was never that cold. It was cold, just like a fall cold kind of thing. But in Calgary those poor kids going out there wearing snowsuits with their costume over it, it's brutal."

    Kyle Busch, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver for Joe Gibbs Racing

    [+] EnlargeTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    Amy Sussman/Getty Images The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were quite influential on some of today's pro athletes.
    "Actually, one year I went as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. I think that was my favorite costume as a kid. I was Michelangelo, and I even had the fake nunchuk," Busch said.

    "One year I was a football player, and one year I even dressed up as Jeff Gordon since he was my favorite race car driver when I was kid."

    Today, Busch drives the No. 18 Toyota sponsored by M&Ms, so he hasn't really stopped racing for candy.

    "It was always cold in Las Vegas during Halloween, even though it can be really hot most of the year. I guess the biggest memory was going out to everyone's house and trick-or-treating and hanging out with friends as a group. Sometimes people wouldn't be home, so they had a bucket out and you would reach in and grab whatever you want out of the bucket. It was all about how much candy you could collect, not necessarily about how much you would eat when you got home."

    Eric Winston, Houston Texans offensive tackle
    Winston's favorite childhood costume was a ninja.

    "I loved karate movies when I was kid," Winston said.

    Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes defenseman

    [+] EnlargeKyle Busch
    Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCARKyle Busch's No. 18 car was dressed up for Halloween for the Oct. 25 race at Martinsville.
    "I swear I used to go every year as a Ninja Turtle. My mom used to try to buy me something new but every year I had the same thing, a Ninja Turtle. I used to love the Ninja Turtles," Yandle said.

    Michael Saunders, Mariners outfielder
    "I was a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, so my mom, when I was young, actually made me a homemade Leonardo outfit," Saunders said. "So I wore that a couple years. That was really my favorite one."

    Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes right winger
    "As a kid I went as, you don't know them in the States, [but] my sister and I when we were kids we went as Shreddies," Doan said of the tasty Canadian breakfast cereal. "Pretty easy costume: Put a cardboard box over your head. Shreddie and Eddie."

    Doan said last year's Halloween was an especially fun team event that had a Western theme with a bull-riding demonstration.

    "There were 10 real bulls. It was unreal, wasn't it?" the Coyotes captain said, asking some teammates. "It was one of the best Halloweens. It was awesome."

    But what about the risk of injury and contract restrictions for such dangerous activities?

    "I'm not saying whether or not anyone got on the bull … because I didn't see that," Doan said, smiling. "I was unable to recognize all of the bull riders; some of them may have been wearing masks."

    Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners designated hitter
    "I couldn't even tell you what I dressed up as any Halloween," Griffey said. "Dressing up wasn't that big, I guess, when [I was] growing up in a small neighborhood. … We hit two blocks and that was it, back home.

    How about Halloween for the three Griffey kids, sons Trey and Tevin and daughter Taryn?

    "[The were] your typical Spider-Man, Superman, a ladybug; that's pretty much it," Griffey said.

    Ah, those first Halloweens for your kids must have been pretty special.

    "No, not really, because you gotta carry them to the door. Because they don't want to go up there, and you're like 'All right, you better go,'" Griffey said.

    "And then they get too old, they're like 'Hey, do we gotta go?' Yeah, you gotta take the little guy [Tevin, 7].' I think as you get older they get more excited about it -- about 10, 11, 12, 13. After that, Trey [now 15] had to answer the door."

    Comic book superheroes are a the go-to costume for Griffey's youngest child.

    "We try to be as normal as possible; you know, whatever's hot," Griffey said. "Tevin was Spider-Man, year before that he was the black Spider-Man, year before that he was Batman, year before that Superman."

    Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning right wing

    [+] EnlargeTom Mulligan
    Scott Audette/NHLI/Getty ImagesThat's not Martin St. Louis; it's Lightning trainer Tom Mulligan checking on Tampa Bay goalie Karri Ramo last season.
    "Geez, my favorite costume is I went as [Lightning head athletic trainer] Tom Mulligan two years ago. That's actually my favorite," St. Louis said loudly so Mulligan could hear.

    "You don't have to tell him you put a pillow under your shirt," Mulligan replied.

    "I actually put two pillows. I couldn't find a third one."

    Derek Jeter, New York Yankees shortstop
    "I was Prince one year. I can't tell you how old I was, probably fourth grade maybe. Long, long time ago," Jeter said.

    Jeter said he didn't dress up and get into Halloween very much as a kid, but his memory was much clearer regarding a more recent Halloween.

    "Best Halloween we had was … we were in the World Series on Halloween. We won that day," he said of the Yankees' 4-3 victory over Arizona in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series. Jeter won that game with a solo home run off Diamondbacks reliever Byung-Hyun Kim in the bottom of the 10th. We'll see if this Halloween brings him similar luck in Game 3 against the Philadelphia Phillies in this year's World Series.