The Greek, the Curse of the Billy Goat, and Cheezborgers

Murphy the billy goat and William “Billy Goat” Sianis

Chicagoans know about it. The entire nation knows about it. It is “The Curse of the Billy Goat” — the hex which endured for 71 long years and was blamed for the Chicago Cubs major league baseball teams’ repeated failed attempts at winning the World Series. And it is all thanks to one Greek man and his goat!

We’ll explain the curse in a moment, but first, let’s remember that something quite extraordinary came of Greek immigrant William Sianis and his goat — the Billy Goat Tavern and their legendary burgers!

William Sianis also brought some Great Cheezborgers to Chicago

There is more to the man than “The Billy Goat Curse”. It all started in 1895 in Greece, when William “Billy Goat” Sianis was born. He later emigrated to the U.S. in 1912 where he taught himself English by reading newspapers. He was such a Chicago Cubs baseball fan that he bought the Lincoln Tavern across the street from the Chicago stadium where his team played (and back in those days, the Cubs were at the top of their game).

According to legend, Sianis repaid the debt for the tavern after a baby goat fell from a truck just outside the building. He decided to look after the goat, and named him Murphy. Sianis became Murphy’s number-one fan, and somewhat of a goat aficionado, which led him to rename his bar “The Billy Goat Inn”.

Sianis earned a reputation of being a shrewd business owner and an expert in publicity stunts. His first hugely-successful stunt was in 1944, during the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Sianis posted a sign outside his tavern stating “No Republicans Served Here.” Angry Republicans went inside to inquire as to why, only to find themselves getting served, and being welcomed with a smile.

In spite of, or maybe because of, the curse, to this day, the Billy Goat Tavern is a success story and boasts a yummy, high-stacked burger, known as the Cheezborger. Made with baseball and the Cubs in mind, it has become a sure-thing home run for all who feast on it.

The Billy Goat Tavern’s “Cheezborger”

Today there are several Billy Goat Taverns in the greater Chicago area, at O’Hare Airport and even in Washington D.C. Perhaps William “Billy Goat” Sianis did know what he was doing, placing that hex on the Cubs after all!

This is how it all happened…according to legend:

It was game four of the 1945 World Series when William “Billy Goat” Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern and a stalwart Cubs fan, bought two tickets to see the game.

One ticket was rumored to be for his goat, Murphy, who he brought along, hoping that it would bring his team good luck in the Series. However, Sianis was met by ushers at the entrance to the stadium who blocked him and his goat from going into the stands to watch the game. The reason? Apparently, goats smell.

The ushers’ response to his pet left a sour taste in Sianis’ mouth and he refused to take no for an answer. Sianis decided to appeal to the owner of the Cubs, P.K. Wrigley. Wrigley replied to Sianis, who was known as “Billy”: “Let Billy in, but not the goat.” Sianis  then asked, “Why not the goat?” and Wrigley answered, “Because the goat stinks.”

This is where the hex all began. Both Billy and his prized goat were upset by this treatment, and Sianis reportedly threw his arms into the air, declaring: “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed on Wrigley Field.”

Of course, the Cubs lost that game, which lost them the World Series, and they never made it to another Series until 71 years later, in 2016.

Billy’s reaction to his beloved Cubs losing the World Series in 1945? He promptly sent a telegram to P.K. Wrigley, asking, “Who stinks now?”

Still, in an attempt to end the Curse, Sianis relocated The Billy Goat Tavern in 1964. He made several other attempts to publicly “end” it 1979, as the years passed and the Cubs’ losing streak continued. His nephew also made a go at rescinding the curse many times  —  even bringing a goat to the Cubs’ Wrigley Field in 1973, 1984, 1989, 1994 and 1998 — all sadly to no avail.

Sianis might have been just a mad goat aficionado — or perhaps he was actually a genius. Either way, Chicagoans have their beloved Cheezborger thanks to this Greek immigrant. But not only that — they now have their long-awaited World Series title, which they won in 2016 — meaning that, despite Sianis’ dire imprecations, the “Billy Goat Curse” has finally ended.