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The Curse of the Billy Goat: How it Led to the Detroit Tigers’ 1945 World Series Victory

The Detroit Tigers’ 1945 World Series win is tied to the famous Curse of the Billy Goat. The curse, which is said to have affected the Chicago Cubs’ ability to win the World Series from 1908 to 2016, was the direct benefactor of William “Billy Goat” Sianis and his pet goat, Murphy.

Why it Matters

  • The Tigers’ 1945 World Series win is tied to one of the most famous curses in baseball history.
  • Understanding the curse of the Billy Goat is important for understanding the history of the Detroit Tigers and baseball in general.

The Big Picture

The Cubs were ahead in the World Series against the Detroit Tigers, leading 2-1 and needing to win just two out of the next four games at Wrigley Field. A local Greek man, William “Billy Goat” Sianis, a Cubs fan and owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, bought 2 tickets to Game 4 and brought his pet goat, Murphy, with him to bring his team good luck. But, he was stopped at the entrance to the park and told that no animals were allowed in.

Billy Goat appealed to the owner of the Cubs, P.K. Wrigley, but was only allowed in, not his goat. Billy Goat, frustrated, exclaimed that the Cubs would never win a World Series as long as the goat was not allowed in Wrigley Field, cursing the team. The Cubs went on to lose Game Four and the entire series, getting swept at home. Billy Goat sent a telegram to P.K. Wrigley asking “Who stinks now?”. From then on, for the next 20 years, the Cubs consistently finished in 5th place or lower, earning them the nickname “The Lovable Losers.”

  • From 1946 to 2003, the Cubs would post a 4250-4874 (.466) record, have only 15 winning seasons, finishing in first place a mere 3 times, have no pennants, no World Series appearances let alone wins, with only four postseason experiences (1984, 1989, 1998, 2003) resulting in a complete reversal of their fortunes.
  • The curse of the Billy Goat is a legend about the demise of the Chicago Cubs and their lack of World Series Titles from 1908-2016.
  • The Tigers were the direct benefactors of the curse in 1945, claiming their second World Series title.

By the Numbers

  • In 1945, the Tigers and Cubs met for the fourth time in the World Series.
  • The Tigers had previously won their first World Series in 1935, but had lost the previous two meetings against the Cubs (1906 &1907).
Detroit Tigers 1945 World Series
via Baseball-Reference.com

Coincidence or Curse?

Take a careful look at the name of Sianis’s goat’s name: Murphy. For the duration of the “curse,” 1945-2016, there were multiple occurrences of “Murphy’s Law” at work:

  • In 1908, the owner of the Cubs was Charles Murphy, their last World Series before 2016.
  • The goat the started the curse was named Murphy in 1945.
  • When they faced the New York Mets in 1969, the “Miracle Mets” had a General Manager named Johnny Murphy and their announcer was Bob Murphy
  • The site of the 1984 NLCS, which they lost to the San Diego Padres was Jack Murphy Stadium.
  • In their 2015 NLCS loss to the New York Mets, Daniel Murphy hit .529 with 4 home runs.

The Bottom Line: The Detroit Tigers’ 1945 World Series win is tied to the famous Curse of the Billy Goat. The curse, which is said to have affected the Cubs’ ability to win the World Series from 1908 to 2016, was the direct benefactor of William “Billy Goat” Sianis and his pet goat, Murphy. Thanks to Murphy, the Tigers were World Champs.

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AJ Reilly
AJ Reilly
A.J. is a lifelong baseball fan and an avid storyteller. His debut novel, The Askren Boys, won the Literary Classics Gold Medal and Seal of Approval in November of 2018. When not writing, he is spending time with his wife Jessica, son Jack, daughter Nora, and new arrival Teddy. A.J. lives in Metro Detroit.

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