How a Goat Stole the Series

Beatrice Endler '17

On Sunday Nov. 1, the Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Mets four games to one, winning the 111th World Series title. Yet, the only thing more exciting than a World Series win, is a World Series loss. This may be surprising, but consistency, whether with wins or losses, has proven to create extremely loyal fans for baseball teams.

The New York Yankees, a well-known baseball team founded in 1901, have won the World Series 27 times, the last time having been in 2009. According to a 2014 poll conducted by Baseballot, which used voters from 32 states, of the 131,204,273 Americans surveyed, 8,062,618 said that they felt allegiance to the Yankees. This is the 4th largest fan base of any team in Major League Baseball.

The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series twice, and this team was founded in 1870, originally as the Chicago White Stockings. The last time the Cubs won the World Series was in 1908, giving this team the honor of having the longest World Series drought in baseball history. It has been 107 seasons since their last win. However, according to the same Baseballot poll, the cubs have 9,960,809 fans, making them the largest fan base in all of Major League Baseball.  

Despite the extremely lengthy drought, the Cubs have been given the name the “lovable losers,” and the loyalty of their fans has not wavered, as they continue to “wait ’til next year.” The 2015 season and postseason were especially successful for the Cubs, as they made it to the NLCS World Series playoffs. In the postseason, the Cubs were the No. 5 seed, and in the first round they beat the No. 4 seed, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then, the Cubs went on to defeat the No. 1 seed, the St. Louis Cardinals, but the Cubbies were then swept by the New York Mets.

From 1876 to 1945, the Cubs were a successful baseball organization, with 51 winning seasons, and were the first team with back-to-back World Series wins. But 1945 was the last time that the Cubs appeared in the World Series, and many Cubs fans believe there is a reason for the decades of bad luck after this final appearance; they believe there is a curse.

It was Game Four of the 1945 World Series, on Oct. 6, when the Chicago cubs faced the Detroit Tigers at the Chicago ballpark, Wrigley Field. The Cubs were leading the Tigers two games to one, needing to win only two more (home) games to take the series. Then a big cubs fan, a local Greek man by the name William “Billy Goat” Sianis, who owned the local Billy Goat Tavern, bought two tickets, and attempted to go to Wrigley Field and watch the game. But he was stopped at the entrance, because the second ticket was for his pet goat, Murphy. Billy Goat believed that Murphy would bring good luck to the Cubs, but even when he spoke to P.K. Wrigley, the owner of the ballpark, Murphy was not allowed in.

William “Billy Goat” Sianis and his goat, Murphy, being stopped at the entrance to Wrigley Field. (Photo:

After Billy Goat asked why the goat could not attend the game, Wrigley responded, “Because the goat stinks.” In Billy Goat’s rage, he delivered the words that would (supposedly) alter the Cubs’  success for over half a century and counting: “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.” The Cubs then lost Game Four and the rest of the series; the curse had begun.  

The traditions of the Chicago Cubs go back decades, and were evidently present in the 1913 team (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).

The traditions of the Chicago Cubs go back decades, and were evidently present in the 1913 team (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).

Since the goat was turned away from Wrigley, the Cubs have only made it the postseason four times, and they have not made another World Series appearance. In 1969, the Cubs were having a great season and Billy Goat decided that the curse should be lifted, but mentioned that his goat was still spiteful. Coincidence or not, the Cubs were swept out of their first place lead by the New York Mets.

Billy Goat died in 1970, and so his nephew Sam Sianis took over the Billy Goat Tavern. In 1973, Sam brought one of Murphy’s descendants to Wrigley field, via white limousine, in an attempt to make amends for the past. However, the goat was denied once again, and the Cubs once again lost their chance at winning the season.

It wasn’t until 1984 when Sam and his goat walked onto Wrigley field, and Sam declared the curse lifted. Following this appearance the Cubs had a particularly successful season, but when the goat wasn’t brought along to a playoff game against the San Diego Padres, the Cubs began to make error after error. They lost this game to the Padres, and the next games as well, until the Cubs were taken out of contention for the World Series, yet again. The same situation happened in 1989 against the San Francisco Giants, again in 1998 against the Atlanta Braves, and again in 2003 against the Florida Marlins.

Sam Sianis and his goat finally step onto Wrigley Field in 1984. (Photo: Washington Post)​

Sam Sianis and his goat finally step onto Wrigley Field in 1984. (Photo: Washington Post)​

Each loss happened when the goat was not present at the game. Although some might just look at this as a coincidence, and instead blame the losses on the wind, bad players, or mismanagement, perhaps the Cubs should reconsider their entire franchise, and change their mascot to a goat; maybe then, after more than a century, they will win.