October 6, 1945: Chicago tavern owner and Cubs fan Bill Sianis and his goat “Murphy” are turned away from the gate prior to Game Four of the World Series at Wrigley Field, despite each having tickets.
As the story has been told and retold, Sianis demanded an appeal that day. Owner Philip K. Wrigley himself told the ushers to let Sianis in but keep Murphy out, "Because the goat smells." In retaliation, Sianis cast a curse over the Cubs with the exclamation, "The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more."
As the history book will forever remind us, not only did the Chicago Cubs lose Game Four that afternoon, but they also dropped the entire Series a few days later. The Cubs' defeat reportedly prompted “Billy Goat” to send Wrigley a telegram asking, "Who smells now?"
Several generations of Cubs fans since are well aware of the fact that the “lovable losers” have stunk for years, having not returned to the Fall Classic since 1945. That represents the longest stretch without a pennant for any team in major league history and of course, the Cubs have not won the Series since 1908.
Here on the 61st anniversary of “Billy Goat” Sianis’ curse being cast on the Cubs, it seems like nothing has changed. The Cubs’ roster is in tatters, they lost more games than any team in the National League in 2006, their president resigned and their manager was fired.
For a quick summary of the current status of the team, check these images, courtesy of ”The Heckler”.
Cardinals fans can do their part to promote the curse by stopping by the Billy Goat Tavern when in Chicago. I have patronized the Tavern for a burger and a beer when in the Windy City and recommend it.
Apparently so did the late John Belushi, Bill Murray and other members of Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe. Don Novello, better known as "Father Guido Sarducci”, after joining NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” with the others in the 1970’s, popularized the Tavern internationally through a series of skits he wrote. “Cheezborger, cheezborger, cheezborger. No fries, cheeps! Pepsi, no Coke!”
Owner Sam Sianis and friend
“Billy Goat Day” is noteworthy for an older generation of fans, much like younger folks have focused their attention on Steve Bartman, the Cubs fan who came into contact with then-left fielder Moises Alou which chasing a foul ball in the eighth inning of Game Six of the 2003 NLCS.
Bartman and Alou
What many do not know is that same day as the Bartman incident, October 14, 2003, Bill Sianis’ nephew, Sam Sianis, returned to Wrigley in the most recent in a number of futile attempts over the years to reverse the curse.
Sianis at Wrigley, 10/14/03
While more recent actions have focused on blowing up the Bartman baseball and other anti-Bartman activities, is there now one curse or two?
Did the curse pass from Sianis’ goat to Bartman that day both were at Wrigley almost three years ago? No one will ever know. But, sixty years from now, if people are still asking the question, you may have your answer.
No matter what, for we historians, October 6 will forever be remembered as “Billy Goat Day”.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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