The Cubs and the Curse of the Billy Goat
Sixty-five years ago today, Chicago tavern owner William Sianis and his goat “Murphy” were kicked out of Game 4 of the 1945 World Series, even though Sianis had bought tickets for both himself and his horned ruminant.
Sianis is said to have stood outside the park and yelled, “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more!” according to a story in the Washington Post.
Six-and-a-half decades later, the Cubs have yet to capture another World Series title.
Sianis was no ordinary crank. A Greek immigrant, he purchased the Lincoln Tavern, a bar across the street from Chicago Stadium shortly after the end of Prohibition.
In 1934, a baby goat fell off the back of a truck into the street outside the tavern. Sianis nursed the goat to health and named it Murphy. Sianis renamed his tavern after the goat, calling it the Billy Goat Tavern. The bar was visited by many of Chicago’s personalities of the 1940s.
Sianis used his goat to draw attention to his bar; he began wearing a goatee, nicknamed himself “Billy Goat,” and began to sneak the goat into unusual locations for publicity stunts.
During Game 4 of the ’45 Series, Sianis and his goat watched the game from their seats until the fourth inning. But than security personnel told Sianis that he and his goat had to leave because of complaints about the goat’s objectionable odor.
Sianis, according to believers of the curse, was enraged that such action was taken against him and his goat, and he then cursed the team.
The exact nature of the curse differs in various accounts of the incident. Some state that Sianis declared that no World Series games would ever again be played at Wrigley Field, while others believe that his ban was on the Cubs appearing in the World Series, making no mention of a specific venue.
Sianis’ family claims that he dispatched a telegram to team owner Philip K. Wrigley which read, “You are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again. You are never going to win a World Series again because you insulted my goat.”
Whatever the truth, the Cubs were up two games to one in the ’45 series but ended up losing Game 4 and the best-of-seven series, four games to three.
And Sianis’ curse appears to be holding, even though he died in 1970. The Cubs still haven’t won a World Series since Sianis leveled doomed the club, which has now gone more than a century without a world championship, the longest drought in Major League Baseball by far.
There have been attempts to break the curse in recent years, but as yet the Cubs continue to toil largely in futility.
They finished the 2010 season this past weekend with a 75-87 record, good for fifth place in the National League’s Central Division and 16 games behind the division-winning Cincinnati Reds.