Sunday, November 27, 2016

Breaking the Billy Goat Curse by L. A. Kelley

What is a Curse?
It’s not dropping the f-bomb. That’s swearing, and your mama doesn’t approve. A real curse is like a negative post-hypnotic suggestion reinforced by circumstance. Effectiveness hinges completely on the gullibility of the victim and involves a ritual to either enact or retract. All curses rely on superstition and a certain whack-a-doodle mentality sadly lacking in modern life. Fortunately, it’s still wildly abundant in the sports world.

Hows About Dem Cubbies?
Only coma victims haven’t heard the news yet that The Billy Goat Curse was lifted, and the Cubbies triumphed in the World Series. Hard to believe, but the Chicago Cubs were once one of the winningest teams in baseball. When known as the Chicago White Stockings they took the first National League Championship and had six titles before 1887. Renamed the Chicago Cubs in 1903, success continued. Three years later the team won a record 116 games and their first pennant. Another pennant and a World Series title came in 1907, and the following year they were the first team in baseball with back to back World Series wins. From 1876 to 1945, The Chicago Cubs had 51 winning seasons, 16 first place finishes, and 16 pennants. They racked up two World Series and six Championship titles. Then it all went south with the dreaded Billy Goat Curse.

The Billy Goat Curse
Legend has it in 1945 William "Billy Goat" Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern and a Cubs fan, bought two tickets to Game Four. Hoping to bring the team good luck he took his pet goat, Murphy, to the game. The ushers stopped him at the entrance because no animals were allowed. Billy Goat appealed to the owner of the Cubs, P.K. Wrigley, who replied, "Let Billy in, but not the goat." When Sianis demanded a reason, Wrigley replied, "Because the goat stinks." Billy threw up his arms and shouted, "The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field." The curse was cast.

A good paranormal writer knows a curse can always be broken. You just need the right ritual and Cubs fans certainly tried. Over the years clothing superstitions abounded. One fan website suggested wearing Cubs hats 24/7. Another swore by donning new Cubs apparel, still another only old. For some, the road to victory was paved with dirty laundry. A smelly faction refused to clean Cubs shirts or jerseys while the Series continued. A less aromatic sect washed when the team lost to remove the bad luck. No wonder it took over 75 years to break the curse. The baseball gods were confused by conflicting ceremonies.

Sacred Offerings
In primitive societies, breaking a curse often involved food, animals, or magic potions. In Chicago, the closest thing to a magic potion is beer, but food had its place as well. The 2015 attempt to break the curse featured five competitive eaters scarfing down 40 pounds of goat meat in 13 minutes at Taco in a Bag on Chicago’s North Side. Fans cheered them on. “If it works, we’re the smartest people in Chicago,” boasted co-owner Patrick Bertoletti. It didn’t. The Cubs lost to the Mets. A group called Reverse the Curse Chicago urged fans to donate dairy goats to impoverished Caribbean families while Heifer International ran a campaign to raise money to send goats to needy families in Third World countries.

In the end, what finally broke the curse? Nothing. There are no curses, silly, only 75 years of lousy baseball followed at last by one season where a team kept it together to the end. (And a certain writer never washed a lucky shirt because you never know.)

Batter up.

L. A. Kelley writes fantasy/sci-fi adventure stories with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. You can connect at


Maureen said...

Lol, loved the post! I wasn't familiar with the story, since I'm a hockey gal and not much into baseball, but oh so true! My hubby refused to wash his hockey jersey for way too long because of 'luck' and his buddies often have 'assigned seats' if their team is winning and they don't want to jinx them.

Diane Burton said...

What a fun post. I didn't know about the Cubbies' curse, even though I am a baseball girl and lived in Chicago for 2 yrs. The whole concept of a curse is fascinating. Sleeping Beauty comes to mind. Revenge against a slight or hurt. How easily it would be to incorporate that concept into a story. Hmmm.

CJ Burright said...

I might be a Mariners fan, but I was SO rooting for the Cubs this year - I really wanted them to break that dang curse! Fun post. :)

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

LOL! I live with one of the world's biggest Cubs fans (a former Rockford, IL resident), so this had me cracking up from beginning to end! He wears his Cubs jersey ALL THE TIME! And I think, despite what he says, that he had tears in his eyes that night...