The Curse of the Billy Goat

By Michael LeCompte

The Chicago Cubs are finally in the World Series. The franchise notably hasn’t won the Series since 1908 and hasn’t even been there since 1945. Of course the Cubbies have been close before over the past 70 years, but always came up just short, often collapsing spectacularly in the playoffs.

Fans and even some players over the years have attributed this century of futility to the curse of the billy goat.

Like any good sports legend the origin and true intent of the curse-or if it even happened at all-is shrouded in mystery.

According to legend the curse dates back to game four of the 1945 World Series when Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, was asked to leave his goat outside the gates because its smell was offending other fans. Although it is unknown what words were exchanged between Sianis and ticket-takers that day, fans supposedly heard the disgruntled fan mumble, “them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.”

Sianis’ own family claimed for years that he respectfully led his goat away from the stadium gates, but later sent a telegram to the Wrigley family-who owned the team. The telegram read: “You are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again. You are never going to win a World Series again because you insulted my goat.” Whether that amounts to a curse, or is the rant of a discouraged fan is debatable.

The legend of the curse was born almost immediately when an account of the goat being turned away at the gate appeared in the next day’s Chicago Sun newspaper on October 7, 1945. The news story claims that the goat was refused entry to the stadium and that Sianis simply tied him to a stake in the parking lot and went in and enjoyed the game.

Whether Sianis slapped a curse on the Cubs or not, the futility and postseason collapses have been real for Chicago fans. A curse can become a convenient excuse over the years and is certainly fun to speculate about, but unfortunately the only curse the Cubs have been  under is a lack of talent-or of enough talent to win when it truly matters-October.

2016 was finally the Cubs’ year, they were good from start to finish-winning 103 games with a good mix of key veterans, several young superstars, and an unconventional, seasoned manager.

This Cubs team is reminiscent of another team that broke a famous baseball curse (the Red Sox) and that was also put together by current Chicago GM Theo Epstein. Those self described “idiots” in Boston that year certainly didn’t care about the ghost of the Babe and one gets the impression the 2016 Cubs aren’t dwelling on stories of goats.

Of course, if any fans do still believe in the curse they could point to the fact that Sianis never said that the Cubs would never go to the World Series again, just that they would never win it.

Sports legends-curses even-are fun, but the fact is there never was a curse of the Billy Goat and the Cubs are finally, legitimately good enough to prove it.