When a ground ball snuck under Bill Buckner’s glove in game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the Curse of the Bambino went viral and stayed that way until the Red Sox finally won a World series in 2004.
The legend dates back to 1918 when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees to finance a Broadway Musical. There were no spells or curses caste, but no one could have ever imagined 86 years of Red Sox ineptitude either.
Most considered the curse tongue in cheek, but those same people never shied away from blaming Bill Buckner. The focus was never on the curse. It turned into a smear campaign against one man-Bill Buckner who at the time had already reached 2500 hits for his career.
The Chicago Cubs have a curse history of their own and it included actual words. The owner of the Billy Goat Tavern and long time Cubs fan Billy Sianis attended the 1945 World Series with his pet goat. Not the most common guest to bring to a game, but no one seemed to mind until the smell got the best of the crowd. They kicked the foul-smelling goat and Sianis out of Wrigley Field’s “friendly confines,” but not before Sianis said…”Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” The Billy Goat Curse was born.
The Cubs never appeared in another World Series, but they came real close in 2003-the year of the goat in the Chinese calendar. The Cub’s misfortune that season could have been a new chapter to the ongoing Billy Goat Curse, but instead, a fan became the focus.
The Cubs were leading the Florida Marlins 3-0 and were five outs away from a trip to the World Series when Steve Bartman and destiny collided. Bartman-a die-hard Cub’s fan interfered with Cub’s left fielder Moses Alou while trying to catch a foul ball.
The Florida Marlins scored 8 runs that inning and won again the following day to eliminate the Cubs. Bartman had his life threatened numerous times by Cub’s fans and to this day he remains in hiding.
I prefer curses when they stick to the program and blame that which we can never know.
If you have 145 minutes to spare, the ESPN film “Catching Hell” explores the curses that became human scapegoats in both Boston and Chicago.