The US and Soviet Union both believed people could control time, read minds and ignore pain. And, reveals The Men on Magic Carpets, their psychic experiments played out in the sporting arena

Candlestick Park, San Francisco, 1964. The wind is whipping off the Bay on a typically cold night at the ballpark. Mike Murphy takes his seat in Section 17. A jazz band pipes up and the vendors shout their wares: Hamm’s or Falstaff beers, Oscar Mayer hot dogs with Gulden’s mustard. Murphy is close enough to talk to the San Francisco Giants players – but he’s not interested in hero worship. He wants to put a voodoo curse on the opposition, the LA Dodgers.

He tells two friends it’s called a “whammy” or “occult backlash”. He’s been practising for years, perfecting the very particular cries and exact hand gestures to transmit negative energy to players. He reckons he’s a baseball witch doctor, sending psychic waves to scramble minds and zap energy from muscles.

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