XLI: Curse of the Billy Goat

If you’re a fan of baseball, you probably know that the Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series game sine 1908 and have not won a National League pennant since 1945. It’s rather unfortunate, and many people may chock it up to a persistent lack of talent (no offense, Cubs fans). But a lot of people credit the Cubs’ 106-year losing streak to a curse.

The Chicago Cubs believe they were cursed in 1945. By a goat.

As the legend goes, Billy Sianis, Chicago resident and owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, brought his pet billy goat to a game between the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers at Wrigley Field in Chicago (do not ask me why the goat was allowed into the stadium). The goat’s odor was upsetting the other spectators, and Sianis and his unconventional pet were ejected from the stadium. As he was dragged out, Sianis yelled, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more!” Some versions even have him sending a telegram to the team owner stating that the Cubs would never win another World Series because they had insulted his goat.

Either way, the Cubs, who until that point in the season were up two games to one, lost the next game and the best-of-seven series, ending the season with more losses than wins.

Over the years, many people have attempted to break the curse. Billy Sianis’ nephew, Sam Sianis, was brought onto the diamond at Wrigley Field with a goat on Opening Day in 1984 and 1989, in 1994, and again in 1998. Apparently it worked fairly well — the Cubs won their division in 1984 and 1989, broke a home losing streak in 1994, and won the Wild Card play-in game (during which the goat was on the field) in 1998. In 2003 (the Chinese Year of the Goat), a group of fans attempted to bring a goat named Virgil Homer into Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, and unfurled and read a scroll which stated that they were attempting to pass the curse off to the Astros. The Cubs did win their division that year, but narrowly missed out on the World Series. In 2007 and again in 2009, a butchered goat was hung from a statue outside Wrigley Field. It had no effect. In 2011, a group called Reverse the Curse was founded to give goats to poor families in developing countries; the goats provide the families with milk and cheese that they can eat themselves or sell to help them survive and escape poverty. In 2012, a group called Crack the Curse walked from the Cubs’ spring training field in Mesa, Arizona, to Wrigley Field with a goat named Wrigley. They raised $100,000 for cancer research along the way. Team owner Thomas Ricketts received a severed goat’s head in the mail in 2013 in another misguided attempt to break the curse.

None of these methods seem to have had any effect, as the Cubs have not won a World Series in 106 years. According to Sam Sianis, the only way the curse will ever be broken when goats are allowed into Wrigley Field not just to break the curse or get publicity, but because the Chicago Cubs have a true fondness for goats.

Good luck with that.

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