Anyone who has been on a job interview knows that it is not the most pleasant experience. The interviewer is tasked with asking questions to get you out of your comfort zone, in hopes that you reveal your true self. The stakes are even higher when it is your dream job. Last March I was given an interview to be the ball boy for the Chicago Cubs. As the questioning concluded the interviewers asked “Is there anything else we should know about you?” “No, I think we have everything covered,” I confidently replied. Had I actually answered the question, I probably would not have gotten the job. The information I omitted was the first step in breaking the age old curse.
By now all Cub fans are aware of the curse of the Billy Goat. In short Billy Sianis decided to bring his goat into the 1945 World Series. The stench of the goat prompted his removal from the game, which left Sianis bitter. He famously cursed the Cubs promising an eternity of losing. After this occurred Sianis went back to work at the Billy Goat Tavern that he founded in 1934. Being a family man he enlisted the help of his nephew Gus Kay (pictured above on the right), my grandfather. Kay is short for Katsikas, which in Greek translates to goat (κατσίκα). Do you see where I am going with this? Yes, indeed my great uncle cursed the Cubs, and only his family could reverse it.
The Regular Season
I was fortunate enough to get the job as the ball boy thanks to the other ball boys putting in the good word (Thanks Matt and Vince).With that entailed driving from Normal, Illinois to Wrigley for every home game and back until school finished. I worked about 60 home games throughout the season and all of them were extremely memorable. I got to meet and chat with the players from many teams, bump shoulders with celebrities, meet all the umpires, and have full access to the field. Getting paid to sit on the field and watch baseball was the ultimate gig. As expected the Cubs clinched the division and the real test began.
Cubs fans witnessed a turbulent postseason filled with nail biters and walk offs. I was fortunate enough to be scheduled for most of the NLCS and NLDS. One game in particular will go down as the greatest baseball moment I ever witnessed in person. Game 1 against the Dodgers, bases loaded, bottom of the 8th and Miguel Montero had come up to pinch hit. The umpire was noting the substitution on his lineup card while Joe Blanton tried to get his attention for a new baseball, to no avail. I grabbed a fresh ball from the bucket, got Joe’s attention and swapped him for the used one. That very baseball was later blasted into the right field bleachers, setting the tone for the rest of the series. I’m not saying… I’m just saying.
The World Series
The time was now, my playoff beard was ripe, and I was scheduled for games 3 and 4. It just so happens that those games ended up as losses. I guess if Uncle Billy didn’t get to see the Cubs win World Series games neither did I. Regardless, our boys in blue took it in 7, in the most agonizing of fashions. As we descended into our week-long benders we woke up on day eight horrified that it was just a dream. It wasn’t and it never will be, it’s reality now.
I would like to take the time for a disclaimer here. My claim of curse breaking is not meant to take away from the achievements of the players and staff. Theo is a god, the roster was stacked, Joe was brilliant, and the chemistry was impeccable. This is a story for those who believe the Cubs were cursed no matter what and for those who could only dismiss superstition with more superstition. With this victory, my bloodline is cleared and ancestors can rest easy.