Over the weekend, the Chicago Cubs laid to rest the “Curse of the Billy Goat” by winning the National League pennant over the Los Angeles Dodgers and moving on to this year’s World Series. The curse stretches all the way back to 1945, when Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, was asked to leave Wrigley Field because his goat’s odor was bothering fans during the fourth game of the 1945 World Series. Offended, Sianis quipped, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more!”
Sianis turned out to be a modern prophet of sorts. His very accurate prediction takes me back to the summer of 1983. The Randall family was living on the east side of Tulsa. My dad worked at an insurance company, my mom was enrolled in a Master’s program at Northeastern State University, my younger brother was being taken care of by grandmother, and I had the run of the house. Needless to say, as a soon-to-be teenager, I did not get up that early during the summer. However, I always made certain to be wide awake when the Chicago Cubs had a home game.
Back in those days, the Cubs played all of their home games during the day since Wrigley Field was not fitted for lights. Therefore, for an eleven year old baseball fan, it was a perfect scenario. Tuned into WGN out of Chicago, I would pop a frozen pizza into the oven, and listen for my summer caretaker, Harry Caray, to welcome me to the game.
“The starting line up for today’s Chicago Cubs,” Caray would announce, “Bill Buckner at first, Ryne Sandberg at second, Ron Cey at third, Larry Bowa at shortstop, Leon Durham in left, Mel Hall in center, Keith Moreland in right, Jody Davis behind the plate, and Fergie Jenkins on the mound.” Now, the Cubs were terrible that year, winning only 71 games while losing 91. Poor Harry would get so disgusted with them, by the seventh inning stretch his rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” might have been slurred just a bit.
Nevertheless, those summer days filled my heart. I loved watching baseball and listening to Harry Caray make his sidekick, Steve Stone, so uncomfortable with his questions and remarks. It was a baseball kid’s dream. Now, today, the Cubs are headed to the World Series. Caray’s mic has long since been silenced with time, but his voice still echoes around Wrigley Field. A few decades ago, my grandfather went to Chicago and caught a game. Amazingly, he ran into Caray outside the park. My grandfather removed his new cap he had purchased at the game and Caray signed the bill of it. Today, that cap sits on a bookshelf in my study. It is worn and faded over the ages, but when the first pitch of the World Series is thrown out this year, I will be wearing it with pride.