If you’re a Chicago Cubs fan, you have to live with “the curse.” And I don’t mean accepting that it has any sway over anything on the field. It never has, and it never will, either. But it’s there all the same. It’s a part of Chicago Cubs lore, and will forever be held forth as a reason why the Cubs have failed to win a pennant in my lifetime and yours.
The story begins with game four of the 1945 World Series, played at Wrigley Field between the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers. Chicago tavern owner Bill Sianis arrived at Wrigley Field with a goat named Murphy, who was wearing a covering that reads “WE GOT DETROIT’S GOAT.” Sianis had two tickets, one for him and one for Murphy.
Chicago Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley, upon hearing of Sianis’ plan to bring his goat into the ballpark, instructed ushers to deny the goat entrance. Wrigley is said to have claimed the goat “smells.” This enraged Sianis, who told his story to reporters while the game was going on. The Chicago Cubs lost that game, and eventually fell to the Tigers in the Series. Sianis then sent a telegram to Wrigley, asking “Who stinks now?”
The story of Sianis and his goat was written by a couple of Chicago reporters in 1945, but no mention is made of a hex or a curse. It wasn’t until a 1950 article in the Chicago Sun-Times when it was suggested the goat contributed to the Chicago Cubs’ loss in 1945. But once that suggestion made its way into the press, it was accepted in the minds of many people. And it has remained there ever since.
The delivery of a box containing a goat’s head to Tom Ricketts at Wrigley Field on Wednesday is a disturbing reminder that some still hold fast to the idea of a billy goat curse. Perhaps it was meant as a stupid stunt to get attention, or maybe it was someone trying to threaten or intimidate the Ricketts family on some level. Whatever the purpose was, its meaning for Cubs fans is all too clear.
Here’s hoping whoever pulled off such a senseless act is identified and publicly subjected to all the bad karma they can handle. There’s certainly no shortage of that on Chicago’s North side.