Billy Goat plum

Curse of the Billy Goat

The Curse of the Billy Goat refers to a superstition that is commonly cited in explaining why the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball team has not won the World Series since 1908.

The Curse

The Billy Goat curse was supposedly placed on the Cubs in 1945 when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave a World Series game at Wrigley Field because his pet goat's odor was bothering other fans. He was outraged and placed a curse on the team saying there would never again be a World Series game played at Wrigley Field. His exact words: "Them Cubs, they aren't gonna win no more." The curse was immortalized in newspaper columns over the years, particularly by syndicated columnist Mike Royko, and gained widespread attention during the 2003 postseason when Fox played it up during the Cubs-Florida match-up in the National League Championship Series.

Attempts to break the curse

Sam Sianis, nephew of Billy Sianis, has been brought out on the field with a goat multiple times in attempts to break the curse: on Opening Day in 1984 and 1989 (the Cubs won the division both years), in 1994 to stop a home losing streak, and in 1998 for the wild card play-in game (which the Cubs won).

A group of Cubs fans headed to Houston in 2003 with a Billy Goat named "Virgil Homer" and attempted to gain entrance to Minute Maid Park. After they were denied entrance, they unfurled a scroll and read a verse proclaiming they were "reversing the curse". Houston faded down the stretch allowing the Cubs to win the division that year. The Cubs, however, came within five outs of the World Series in 2003, until the Marlins went on to score eight runs in the inning, to lead 8-3. The Cubs lost that game and the next game to the Florida Marlins, who went on to win the World Series against the New York Yankees.

In another bizarre twist, it was reported that a butchered goat was hanged from the Harry Caray statue on October 3, 2007, but the Sun-Times noted: "If the prankster intended to reverse the supposed billy goat curse with the stunt, it doesn't appear to have worked." However, the Cubs did win the NL central title in 2007 and 2008, but were swept in the first round of the playoffs each year: by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007 and by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. The elimination by Arizona came on October 6, the same date that the goat appeared at Wrigley Field in 1945.

The cure

According to three interviews with Sam Sianis, William Sianis' nephew-in-law, the Curse of The Billy Goat can be dispelled only by the Chicago Cubs organization's showing a sincere fondness for goats; allowing them into Wrigley Field because they genuinely want to, not simply for publicity reasons.

Former Cubs who won a World Series title elsewhere

Another factor that may play a role in the curse is the number of players who won World Series titles after leaving the Cubs. These players include Andy Pafko (who, coincidentally, played in the 1945 World Series as a Cub), Gene Baker, Smoky Burgess, Don Hoak, Dale Long, Lou Brock (whose first title was in 1964 after a mid-season trade to the St. Louis Cardinals), Lou Johnson, Jim Brewer, Moe Drabowsky, Don Cardwell, Ken Holtzman, Billy North, Bill Madlock, Manny Trillo, Rick Monday, Burt Hooton, Bruce Sutter, Willie Hernández, Joe Niekro, Dennis Eckersley, Joe Carter, Greg Maddux, Joe Girardi, Glenallen Hill (after his second stint with the Cubs; his title came in 2000 after he'd been traded in mid-season), Luis Gonzalez, Mike Morgan, Mark Grace, Mark Bellhorn and Bill Mueller. Dontrelle Willis and Jon Garland were traded as minor leaguers.

Former Cubs cursing other teams

Conversely, the "Ex-Cubs Factor" seemed to plague many a post-season qualifier that had too many former Cubs. This theory reached its zenith in 1990, when the factor "predicted" that the Oakland Athletics were "doomed" in that year's World Series, and the A's were swept by the Cincinnati Reds in a stunning upset (coincidentally, then Reds manager, Lou Piniella, is now the Chicago Cubs manager) . In the 2001 World Series, however, the Arizona Diamondbacks faced the Yankees with three ex-Cubs on their roster, and not only won the Series in dramatic fashion, but won it on a rally started by Mark Grace, an ex-Cub, effectively discrediting the "Ex-Cubs" theory.

Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, who was blamed for Boston's 1986 World Series loss after a routine ground ball rolled through his legs, was also a former Cub. It has been recently uncovered that at the time of the play (and in many other instances), Buckner was wearing an old and tattered Chicago Cubs batting glove under his fielding glove.

Former Cub pitcher Mike Krukow (who went on to play for the San Francisco Giants and is currently a broadcaster for them) is alleged to be the source of the legendary "Krukow Kurse". The "Krukow Kurse" is used to explain the Giants' fifty-plus year failure to win the World Series while in San Francisco. Before the start of each season, Krukow states his usual optimistic prediction- during his radio show-that the Giants have a chance to ultimately win the World Series. Once Krukow stops making such preseason predictions- says the legend- the Giants will, in fact, win the World Series.

Another former Cub, Mitch Williams, also suffered from the World Series heartbreak in 1993, when he gave up a legendary walk-off home run to Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays in the ninth inning of Game 6, handing the World Championship to Toronto. Williams would then play for the Houston Astros, who missed a possible chance to win the NL pennant due to the 1994 strike. Coincidentally, Carter was also a former Cub, but he and Williams had not been teammates in Chicago.

Other cultural references

See also


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