The Cubs Goat Curse
October 6, 1945
Cubs fans were filled with hope as their team prepared to host the fourth game of the 1945 World Series. After taking two of three from Detroit at Tiger Stadium (the last a 3-0 one-hitter from right-hander Claude Passeau), the club headed home poised to take a commanding three-games-to-one lead in Game Four on October 6th, 1945. A victory would move them one step closer to breaking a discouraging string of losses in their last six Fall Classics.
42,922 fans — and one goat — showed up for the game. The goat’s name was Sinovia and was owned by Billy Sianis, the proprietor of a popular blue-collar tavern where Sinovia was a well-known attraction. Walking around the stadium wearing a blanket that read “Let’s Get the Tigers’ Goat”, Sinovia was a hit at Wrigley Field as well. When Sinias made his way to the two box seats he had bought for himself and his prized goat, however, he encountered a less enthusiastic reception. Holding their noses, the fans protested that the goat must go. Cubs’ owner Phil Wrigley concurred and stadium employees promptly escorted the pair out of the stadium.
In retaliation, Sianis cast a “goat curse” on the Cubs. While no one knows the exact terms of the hex, various rumors have circulated down through the years. Some say Sianis guaranteed the team would never win the World Series so long as the goat lived; others say the Cubs were doomed so long as Sianis lived, and still others contend the curse would endure as long as the club played at Wrigley Field, or perhaps until the Cubs let a goat into the stadium.
Whatever Sianis actually said, there is little doubt the series quickly turned in the Tigers’ favor. Detroit scored four runs in the fourth inning while right-hander Dizzy Trout allowed Chicago just five hits in a complete game victory. The Tigers took Game Five too, but the Cubs managed to force a seventh game with a 12th inning win in Game Six. The Tigers claimed the title, however, as ace Hal Newhouser went the distance for the second time in the series en route to a 9-3 win in the decisive game.
The curse certainly had staying power. Ever since Sianis and his legendary goat were removed from Wrigley Field, the Cubs have not won a single post-season series, either in the divisional or league championship round, and have never returned to the World Series.
Finally, in 1984 the Cubs took the bull — or goat — by the horns. 11 years after Sianis died, new GM Dallas Green invited the barkeep’s nephew Sam (the current owner of the bar) and the latest goat, Billy, to watch Chicago’s home opener. After fans sat through a wet infield practice, announcer Jack Brickhouse introduced Sam and Billy. Fans cheered as the two entered through a gate in right field and made their way to the pitcher’s mound. The Cubs shellacked Mets’ rookie phenom Dwight Gooden en route to an 11-2 win that day and went on to win the NL East for the club’s first post-season berth since 1945.
Billy and Sam also attended the first two games of Chicago’s playoff series with San Diego. Backed by the good goat karma, the Cubs clobbered the Padres by scores of 13-0 and 14-2. Unfortunately, Billy stayed home in the Windy City when the series shifted to San Diego, and the Cubs dropped three straight games at Jack Murphy Stadium to fall short of the World Series.