Cubs reach 2016 World Series: Tracking the origins of the 'Curse of the Billy Goat'

Over the last several days, you might've found yourself wondering just what's the deal with all this goat talk. What you're really wondering, then, is what spurred the so-called "Curse of the Billy Goat" -- that spell supposedly responsible for the Chicago Cubs' century-long championship drought.

As it turns out, the origins of the billy goat curse are tougher to pin down than you would expect.

Sept. 9, 1969, at Shea Stadium: One of the famed moments of the curse. Getty Images

The commonly accepted tale goes like this: a tavern owner named Williams Sianis tried taking his goat, Murphy, to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers. He'd purchased two tickets and argued with ushers that the tickets did not outlaw a goat. Nonetheless, Sianis and Murphy were rejected, at which point Sianis hexed the Cubs -- the exact details of the hex remain unclear.

But there are other accounts suggesting Murphy had a more eventful day at the ballpark than most believe. In "Da Curse of the Billy Goat," Steve Gatto's 2004 book on the subject, it's suggested that Sianis was permitted entry to Wrigley Field with Murphy. What's more is that Murphy was allowed in the stands, even after he stamped around the field prior to the game. It was only later in the game, when Murphy's odor became overpowering, that the duo were kicked out. Sianis then placed his curse, and that was that.

These guys probably don't care about goats. USATSI

In all likelihood, the truth is somewhere in the middle. We should probably accept that Sianis had a goat named Murphy; that he brought Murphy with him to Wrigley Field for Game 4 of the 1945 World Series; that, well, something happened that caused Sianis and Murphy to be pushed away; and that Sianis took it personally, leading to his dip into voodoo or strongly worded chain letters or whatever. (There's no word on how Murphy responded to the Cubs' rejection.)

Though the curse didn't become a thing until much, much later, the Cubs went on to lose the '45 World Series -- that despite entering Game 4 up 2-1. Obviously the Cubs wouldn't win another pennant until this fall, along the way suffering through enough meltdowns to further fan the flames on the curse talk. Whether you believe in jinxes or not -- and whether you believe a man could hold such regard for his goat to curse a baseball team for eternity -- is besides the point. The whole thing is, really, just for fun, much like Babe Ruth's called shot, or a number of other baseball stories that are questionable-in-authenticity, right?

Or, at least, is now that the Cubs are on the verge of making it a relic of the past.

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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