Every Chicago fan knows the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. The Cubs have earned the nickname “Loveable Losers” by fans, and everything from billy goats to black cats have been blamed for the Cubs’ infamous track record. But the roots of these old superstitions go deeper than one might think.
Work began on the field around February 23, 1914. After the land had been cleared, groundbreaking ceremonies took place on March 4. Under the guidance of the Blome-Sinek company, the lead contractor, the park construction made progress over the remainder of March and the first half of April. Despite a brief strike by construction workers in early April, the new park was ready for baseball by the the home opener on April 23, 1914.
The new ballpark, was called Weeghman Park. It was a modern construction made of steel and concrete that featured a single-decked grandstand sweeping from right field behind home plate to near the left field corner.
As modern rumor has it, Wrigley (Weeghman) Field was built on an old Chicago burial ground. There is in fact several large cemeteries within walking distance of Wrigley Field. The most famous of which is Graceland Cemetery, which has the graves of many famous Chicagoans, from Indian fighters to Chicago politicians. There is no proof that Wrigley was built on an old cemetery, but the property originally was occupied by a Lutheran Theological Seminary. Due to the fact that the Lakeview neighborhood was a rapidly developing area, the seminary owners were eager to move to a new location and sold the property for $175,000 dollars.
But the real supernatural problems didn’t start in earnest until 1945, when the Cubs met the Detroit Tigers in the World Series at Wrigley Field. As the story goes, the owner of the world-famous Billy Goat Tavern, Billy Sianis, was asked to leave Wrigley Field with his goat (yes, a real goat). Billy was said to have been so offended that he said the Cubs would never win another World Series; though there seems to be some debate over just exactly what Billy said and how he said it. His statement certainly gives Cubs fans fuel for this ongoing superstition.
The 1969 Cubs were considered to be the greatest Cubs team ever assembled. With Players like Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams and Ernie Banks, how could the Cubs go wrong? With a late season lead of 9 1/2 games ahead of the Mets, it looked like nothing could stop the Cubs from returning to the World Series.
The curse is said to have reared its ugly head again on September 9, 1969, when a black cat ran onto the field as the Cubs played a crucial series against the Mets at Shea Stadium. After running circles around Ron Santo in the on-deck circle, the black cat quickly disappeared underneath the stands — more fuel for the fire of the Cubs curse.
The Cubs came close going to the World Series in 2003, exceeding expectations of most Cubs fans. The team’s success can be attributed, first and foremost, to its starting rotation, which featured Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Clement — each of who won at least 13 games. The pitching staff led the National League in strikeouts with 1,404, over 100 more than any other team. While not nearly as dominant in hitting, the Cubs lineup was supported by trade-deadline acquistions, which included Aramis Ramirez, Randall Simpson and Kenny Lofton. But despite the world-class effort in 2003, the possibility of the Cubs seeing (or winning a World Series) is a distant and elusive possibility after the infamous Bartman incident.
As far as a supernatural curses go, the jury is still out. Although world-famous Chicago ghost hunter Richard Crowe points out, on his Chicago Ghost Tours, that Wrigley Field is also in the path of the Haidan Totem Pole. This is a replica of a totem pole brought to Chicago by J.L. Kraft. The original pole was returned in 1985 to the Haidan Indians. As the story goes, the faces carved into the pole would change places and was thought to contain some type of supernatural power. But the worst aspect of the haunted totem pole was that it faced directly west from Lakeshore Drive toward Wrigley Field, adding to the list of reasons as to why the Cubs have failed to win a World Series since 1908.
Until the Cubs finally break the “curse” by winning a World Series, Chicago fans will continue to blame superstition as the cause of the Lovable Losers’ inability to win the big one.