These aren’t your grandpa’s Cubs: From the curse of the billy goat to World Series champions
As third-baseman Kris Bryant fired the final out to first base, Chicago rejoiced. After 108-years, the Cubs shed themselves of the “Curse of the Billy Goat” and won the World Series. For generations, they were the loveable losers and they nearly let this one get away too. But now, the Cubs look poised to compete for the World Series for years to come. However, before Chicago fans start looking ahead, let’s look back at those 108 years of tribulation.
The magic of Orval Overall and Three-fingered Mordecai Brown
On October 14, 1908, leading 3-1 in the World Series over the Detroit Tigers after a pair of dominant pitching performances from ‘three-fingered’ Mordecai Brown in games one and four, Orval Overall threw the final out of the World Series for the Chicago Cubs. After back-to-back championships in 1907 and 1908, the future would be bleak for the Cubs.
The Curse of the Billy Goat
It all started in 1945, when a smelly goat wasn’t allowed into game four of the World Series at Wrigley Field. The owner of the goat famously proclaimed, “You are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again.” They would of course squander a 2-1 series lead and lose the World Series to the Tigers. This would mark their final World Series for seventy years.
The curse of the black cat
Then, in 1969 the Cubs started the final month of the season with a five game lead on the second-place New York Mets. In a crucial game against the Mets at Shae Stadium on September 9, 1969, a black cat wandered across the field. The Cubs would go on to lose the game and 12 of their next 20 games, losing their division lead, and missing the playoffs, setting the mark for one of the biggest season collapse ever seen.
The Steve Bartman foul ball
Lastly, who could forget the famous Steve Bartman incident? In game 6 of the NL Championship series, a fly ball was heading into foul territory when a nerdy-looking, headphone-wearing fan reached out over the railing and interfered with a potential catch by a Cubs outfielder Moisés Alou. The catch would have been the second out in the eighth inning of a potentially series clinching game. The Cubs would on to give up 8 runs in the horrific inning, and lose 8-3. Of course, they would go on to lose game 7 and a chance to go to the World Series.
The curse breakers
However, all the bad luck was erased on Wednesday night. Down 3-1 in the series, the Cubs came storming back, winning games five and six to force a game seven. After squandering two three run leads, Chicago pulled ahead in the tenth inning to claim the World Series and the loveable losers quickly turned into America's sweetheart. With five starters under the age of 25, the Cubs look poised to continue their dominance.
Theo Epstein, Cubs President and de-facto general manager—and certified curse breaker—deserves a bulk of the credit for the 2016 victory. Using Chicago’s big budget he brought in big names to compliment a number of shrewd trades and high-level draft picks. He shored up the batting lineup and added high quality pitchers, quickly turning these perennial losers into a World Series contender. Now, after a century of misfortune, the Cubs are back on top. When Overall threw the final out in 1908 he was capturing the second of consecutive World Series championships, with the talent already in place for these Cubs, a pair of championships and a Cubs dynasty could be on the horizon for those lovable former-loser Chicago Cubs.