The Billy Goat, the Black Cat and Steve Bartman
The 2006 Season is quickly approaching and before long the conversation in the media will turn to ‘Is this the Year the Cubs end the Curse?’….I can see the headlines now. Are the Cubs really cursed? That is THE question of the last century. With the recent end of the ‘curses’ for the Red Sox and White Sox, the Cubs remain as the last of the ‘cursed’ teams.
Before we look at the season ahead, I wanted to look at all three of the events that reinforce the belief that the Cubs are cursed. Are the Cubs actually cursed or are there other reasons for the Championship gap that is now on year 98?
As the legend goes this whole curse thing started as innocently as the Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees. William Sianis was the owner of a local tavern called the Billy Goat Trap. During the 4th game of the 1945 World Series, Sianis and his goat were asked to leave the ballgame by then owner P.K. Wrigley. Apparently Sianis had bought two $7.20 box seats to watch game 4 of the series against the Detroit Tigers. Sianis brought his pet goat Murphy with him to the game. Sianis and his goat, Murphy, made it on to the field before the ushers escorted them to their seats. Sianis was allowed to use the seats he had purchased, but were asked to leave before the game had concluded. Owner P.K. Wrigley asked the ushers to escort them both from the stadium due to the animal’s objectionable odor. Sianis was outraged by the ejection and he placed a curse upon the Chicago Cubs that they would never win another pennant or play in another World Series at Wrigley Field. The Cubs lost the series to the Tigers in 7 games and William Sianis sent a telegram to Wrigley that read, “Who Smells Now?”
With the worldwide popularity of the Cubs, the Curse of the Billy Goat has spread worldwide and is not just an urban legend in Chicago any longer.
The Cubs have gone as far to invite the nephew and current owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, Sam Sianis and a goat, to Wrigley Field to ‘remove the curse’ his uncle had placed on the Cubs. I remember one of these events and I think it was before the 1994 season. Needless to say, that exorcism did not work and the Cubs have yet to see what all of the Cubs Faithful call the ‘Promised Land’.
This is the origin of the futility according to the legend. All of the loosing on the Northside can be traced to that one event on October 6, 1945. William Sianis died in 1970, but his curse remains. Many believe that the curse of the Cubs is different from that of the Red Sox and that the curse must be lifted in order for the Cubs to win a pennant.
Many of the articles I read on this subject mention all of the events over the nearly 51 years since Sianis was asked to leave that one game in October. The obvious were the black cat and Steve Bartman, but some of the articles even delved into the injuries, bad signings and freak accidents as proof this curse actually exists.
It has become a convenience to blame all of the losing on a curse placed by a Greek immigrant over 50 years ago.
Ron Santo and The Black Cat
We have all seen the pictures and video of that Black Cat in Shea Stadium. It crossed Ron Santo’s path, he got injured, the Cubs hit their September swoon and the blankin’ Mets won the World Series. That was supposed to be the team to win it all, the best team in Cubs History. The 1969 Cubs were the toast of the town and were on their way to winning it all….then the ‘curse’ hit and the dreams of all Cubs fans were dashed….again. The 1969 Cubbies were full of Future Hall of Famers, and probably the best supporting cast the Northside has ever seen. So was it the ‘curse’? Was it the black cat? Or just plain old fashion bad baseball?
As the story goes, the Cubs had a 8 1/2 game lead in the division during the second week in August. On September 9, 1969 during a game at Shea Stadium, a black cat appeared on the field and circled Ron Santo who was in the on-deck circle.
Ron Santo recently spoke about the ‘Black Cat’ incident on XM during the Cubs Convention and he laughed about it the entire time. From what I know about Santo, I think he is trying to make light of a bad situation. He hates it when the Cubs lose, so I can only imagine what he has gone through over the past thirty plus years when he could have actually done something about ending all of the years of losing. Santo said, “The funny thing about that is I am standing there on deck and I just go my bat on my shoulder and out of the corner of my eye this cat goes right around me in Shea Stadium. But after he passed me, he went right for Durocher sitting in the end of the dugout. Looked at Leo and then went under the dugout. I do not believe in the Black Cat thing, but after the season….I think they might have planted that one.”
The Cubs could not rebound from the ‘black cat’ and would not make the playoffs until 1984, nearly 40 years between appearances. (Article)
I cannot believe how much of Cubs lore that one single man has become. The Cubs fanatics have become fascinated with this guy, but why? How many of you would have done the same thing? Bartman was just a fan going for a foul ball during the playoff of his favorite team. It has been over 2 1/2 years and I cannot believe how many Internet searches are done to find out more about this one-man….a Cubs fan….named Steve Bartman.
I was sent a link to article from ESPN.com entitled ‘Searching for Bartman’ by Wayne Drehs. And here is what he found out…. The article traces the steps of Drehs, a Cubs fan, trying to find where Steve Bartman is and what has he been doing since that fateful night in 2003. I have said it before and I will say it again, Bartman did not cost the Cubs a trip to the World Series. This is not a popular stance, but one I will stand by until all of the ghosts from the Cubs past are erased. If Alex Gonzalez would have turned the double-play (grounder from Miguel Cabrera) or if Derrek Lee had not hit the double to tie the game off of Mark Prior or if Kyle Farnsworth would have shut the door on the Marlins and kept the game tied, no one would have ever remembered the name ‘Steve Bartman’….let’s not forget the Cubs still had Kerry Wood going in Game 7.
‘Searching for Bartman’ is a very good article. You can tell Wayne Drehs’ passion for the Cubs and finding out all he can about where Bartman is now. The article takes place during the Red Sox/Cubs series last summer. He even details the seat that Bartman sat in (Aisle 4, Row 8, Seat 113) and admits he would have done the same….he would have gone for the ball. Drehs goes into detail how he felt like a stalker in his attempt to track down and talk to Bartman. He actually finds Bartman and talks to him briefly.
Cubs’ fans seem to have a long memory. We can remember stats and who was playing what position for any given Cubs team during our lifetime. We need to forget the ‘Billy Goat’, the ‘Black Cat’ and Steve Bartman, I think we need to let them all go and it is time we let Bartman have some peace.