The 2016 Chicago Cubs have already made history but they still may need a bit more luck — or determination, or whatever magical quality brought the team to the World Series this year — if they want to lift the so-called "Curse of the Billy Goat."
The Cubs victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series marked the first time "The Lovable Losers" had advanced to the Fall Classic since 1945. They are seeking their first title since 1908.
To capture the Commissioner's Trophy, Chicago will need to overcome a contentious curse that has hung over the team for several decades.
What Is The Curse Of The Billy Goat?
Diehard Cub fans have an unusual explanation for the lack of postseason success: a goat.
As the story goes, a local tavern owner showed up to a World Series game in 1945 on Oct. 6 alongside an odd choice in companionship. There are a couple iterations of what happened next.
The first says that the bar owner, Billy Sianis, who had a ticket for his furry friend, strode into the stadium but was turned away by ushers who said he couldn’t bring the smelly animal into the venue. Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley is said to have backed up his ushers saying he couldn’t bring the animal in because “the goat stinks.”
In this version of the legend, Sianis threw his hands up in the air and said “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more! The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field!”
In the second story, Sianis makes it into the stadium with his pet goat, Murphy, and they assume their seats. Then, after a brief rain delay, other patrons complained about Murphy’s stench and the animal is kicked out.
“You are going to lose this World Series… You are never going to win the World Series again because you insulted my goat,” Sianis said, the legend goes.
Whatever happened — or if anything actually happened with a goat that day —the Cubs did not have good luck then. The Cubs lost the Oct. 6 game and then dropped two of the next three games to lose the World Series.
Attempts To Break The Curse
Sianis later “lifted” the curse before his 1970 death but he’s not the only one to try and stop the bad-luck streak.
Cubs’ management has allowed Sianis’ nephew parade goats across Wrigley Field. A Greek Orthodox priest blessed the stadium with holy water in 2008. Fans have gotten in on the action, too. A group of fans tried to “Reverse the Curse” in 2011 with a charity that sent goats to families in places like Africa where the farm animals could help people’s fortunes there. Five fans also organized a 2,000-mile march with a goat named “Wrigley” from Arizona — where the Cubs hold spring training — to Chicago to raise money for cancer research.
Goat heads have been sent to Wrigley field on a couple of occasions as well.
Another Origin Story
Not every Cubs fan is a true believer of the goat hex and some point to the fact that the goat incident wasn’t really mentioned until years later. Fans weren’t quick to jump on the idea and instead the curse got its heat behind it after sportswriters began mentioning it in their columns years later (Sianis apparently loved publicity so, if he hadn't cast a curse, he may have stayed quiet about the ordeal).
It became a major talking point in 1969 when the Cubs made it into the playoffs leading their division only to implode. The culprit that series? A black cat that walked in front of the dugout.
Others, including Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko, wrote in 1997 that the real curse was that of P.K. Wrigley’s mismanagement of the club and the team’s hesitancy to bring African American players on board after the league was integrated.
“It’s about time that we stopped blaming the failings of the Cubs on a poor, dumb creature that is a billy goat,” Royko wrote. “This has been going on for years, and it has reached the point where some people actually believe it.”
The Cubs face the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8:08 p.m. EDT.