The only Cubs game I have ever attended at Wrigley Field took place on October 14, 2003, a day of infamy for Chicago sports fans.
From our perspective behind the visitor’s dugout, about eight rows from the field, the Cubs appeared to have the game well in hand.
They led the Florida Marlins 3-0 heading into the eighth inning of the game and held a 3-2 lead in the National League Championship series.
After the first out of the inning we saw Reverend Jesse Jackson, who sat seven rows in front of us, stand and hold his right hand high with all five fingers extended.
As he began chanting, “Five more outs, five more outs ’til the World Series!” my husband joined a chorus of Cubs fans yelling for the Reverend to sit down.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“He’s jinxing us!” Vince answered with all of the sincerity and superstition of a Cubs fan.
On the next at bat, Luis Castillo lined a foul ball into the left field stands. Among other fans, Steve Bartman leaned over the railing at the same time Cubs left fielder Moises Alou reached for the ball.
The chaos that ensued built slowly and appeared at first to be a small scuffle for the ball. I didn’t realize anything unusual had happened until I saw Alou protest vigorously, pointing into the stands.
Eventually I saw security guard escort a fan out up the aisle and it honestly felt like the wind had been sucked out of the stadium.
The Cubs gave up eight runs that inning and lost both the game and, eventually, the series.
Vince and I could hear our heels hitting the pavement as we walked through Wrigleyville to our car after the game. A deadly silence surrounded the place.
According to Cubs lore, in 1945 Billy Goat Tavern Owner Billy Sianis, asked to leave a World Series game at Wrigley because his pet goat’s stench annoyed fans, cursed the Cubs saying “Them Cubs, they aren’t gonna win no more.”
Momentum means everything in baseball and, though their current record might support Mr. Sianis’ curse, I think it will swing the Cubs’ way soon. Someday they’ll win the World Series.
But I’m not saying that out loud.