April in Glenwood: Curse lifted | PostIndependent.com

April in Glenwood: Curse lifted

In life, I try to be enthusiastic about at least one person, place, or thing — better known as a noun — per day. I certainly don’t limit myself to only one, of course. I just don’t have enough energy to be enthusiastic 24-7.

This week, watching the World Series had me in anticipation practically every day. I wish I could say baseball does that for me every time. I admittedly lack the extended attention span and knack for understanding how pitchers know what catchers are saying with those secret hand signals. I mostly like to watch the Cubs, and sometimes the Rockies, and friends’ kids’ little league and high school games. I’ve been a Cub fan since high school, when I was turned on to the team and its loyal following and Blues Brothers-esque culture by friends.

Somewhere, John Belushi is smiling.

My old friend Phil was often wearing a Cubs baseball hat or jersey — sometimes both — as part of his casual wardrobe for tall guys. Another friend, Johnnie, who unexpectedly passed in his 20s, donned a Cubs hat, often backwards, whenever possible. That hat and his funny, laid-back personality were behind the “Coolest Guy in School” nickname my best friend Misty and I gave him when we were seniors and Johnnie was a sophomore in high school. He loved his team and the game so much, he was laid to rest in his favorite blue Cubs hat.

He also did a spot-on impersonation of “Joliet” Jake E. Blues when duty called.

Born and raised in Indiana, I’ve been around Chicago Cubs fans all my life. We don’t have a Major League team, but rather the Indianapolis Indians. They’re the minor league, Triple-A affiliate team, also knows as the farm team, for Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates. With the proximity of Indianapolis to Chicago and Cincinnati, it’s common for Hoosiers to be fans of the Cubs and White Sox, or Reds, respectively. I chose the Cubs.

Or maybe the Cubs chose me.

However it happened in the universe of sports team affiliations, I love rooting for the Cubs. I appreciate an underdog, maybe because I’m one myself at times. And I appreciate any story involving goats because they make amazing pets and friends. So being a Cubbies fan seemed to come naturally for me.

The Cubs history is one for the books — the kind filled with mysterious stories of curses and goats and all that fun old-timey stuff. Chicago last won back-to-back championships in 1907 and 1908, making it 108 years since winning the World Series. Word on the streets of Chicago always said it was the Curse of the Billy Goat.

That all changed in the early morning hours of Nov. 3, 2016.

First let’s flash back to 1945, when the Curse of the Billy Goat was famously born. That was the last year the Cubs won a pennant. It was the end of World War II, during Game 4 of the World Series against the Detroit Lions, and a spiteful lad named Billy Sianis was ejected from Wrigley Field. Apparently he wasn’t happy about it. He had two box seats for the game that day, and instead of bringing his sweetheart, impressionable child, or even a buddy from work, he brought his goat.

And a smelly one at that.

The goat stink didn’t fly with the Wrigley folks, so it and Billy had to go. As he was ejected like John McEnroe from an ’80s tennis match, Billy cursed the Cubs. He allegedly later declared, “The Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” The team went on to lose the game, and the series, and did not return until the 2016 World Series.

Curse lifted. Finally.

Flash forward to Game 7 of the World Series Thursday morning. The historical game, which started more than four hours earlier, ran late, past midnight, after a tie-game requiring a short rain delay and extra 10th inning. For a Wednesday night — a school night — many parents, including myself, and kids were already in bed when the final out was thrown by Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant.

Google that play to see his smile as he realizes what’s about to happen.

In hopes not to wake up my 15-month-old, Will, who was sleeping in his crib, I threw a pillow around the bed and muffled my shrieks of joy when reality hit that my favorite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, had just won the World Series in Game 7 with an unbelievably close score of 8-7. I could hardly sleep, so I enjoyed scrolling through my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds to see the celebrations happening live in Chicago, and virtually all over the country. In that moment, Cub fans were relieved it wasn’t 1945 anymore. I was over-the-top enthusiastic.

And will be for some time to come.

April E. Allford misses being a catcher on the PI’s Write Fielders co-ed softball team. She can be reached at aprilallford@gmail.com.

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