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Cubs Fans Curse Latest Disappointment

October 16, 2003

CHICAGO (AP) _ Chicago Cubs’ manager Dusty Baker insists there’s no curse on his team. But 75-year-old Dorothy Stott has been around a lot longer than Baker, and her memory goes back further than Tuesday night when a fan’s hands got between Moises Alou’s glove and a fly ball with the Cubs five outs from making it to the World Series.

She can tell you about the ground ball that rolled through Leon Durham’s legs in 1984 and took the Cubs’ hopes to get to the World Series with it. Or the way the Cubs took an insurmountable lead in the 1969 pennant race and, well, watched it get surmounted.

And she knows all that happened after a local tavern owner put a curse on the team in 1945 when he wasn’t allowed to bring his pet goat into Wrigley Field for a game in what turned out to be the last World Series the Cubs ever played.

So she wonders. ``I never thought of a curse but I always said they had bad luck,″ said Stott, who lives a few blocks from Wrigley. ``Bad luck is a curse so, yeah, there really must be something.″

Others think so, too. ``I think they’re somehow jinxed, I really do,″ said Ian Mulford, 42, who took his 11-year-old son, David, to Wrigley on Wednesday night when the Cubs lost to the Florida Marlins 9-6 in the final game of the NL Championship series.

``Something keeps cropping up and something keeps happening to them,″ he said.

For her part, Mari Merrell, 30, of Aurora said that this year’s strangest event came in the eighth inning of the sixth game when fan Steve Bartman deflected a ball that Alou appeared just about to catch for the second out of the inning.

``The billy goat is gone,″ she said. ``Now we have the curse of the moron.″

Many fans, though, said the failure to win the series after taking a commanding 3-1 game lead or win the sixth game after taking a 3-0 lead into the eighth inning Tuesday night had nothing to do with a real goat. Nor, they say, did it have anything to do with Bartman, who was portrayed as a goat after he deflected the ball Tuesday night.

``It seems like that was just one little small thing,″ said Vern Lemke of Plainfield, who attended Wednesday night’s game. ``There were so many places after that when they (the Cubs) could have put the hammer down on these guys, so many bad pitches after that _ especially yesterday,″ he said Thursday.

No matter who they blamed or where they were, Cubs fans said this year’s ending was especially painful, certainly worse than when the team finishes well down in the standings.

``I have an 11-year-old son who had probably his biggest disappointment in life thus far last night,″ said U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., in Washington, D.C. ``He was crying when he went to bed, and I guess that’s what it means to grow up a Cubs fan.″

It seemed especially true outside Wrigley on Wednesday night. Strangers gathered on the streets around the glow of small television sets, appearing almost like the poor and cold warming themselves around burning trash cans.

``This is a heartbreak,″ said Robert Alcala, 43, as he consoled people he didn’t know before leaving the spot where he watched the game on a television someone had brought to the street just beyond the right field wall.

``I thought this was going to be the year, I really did,″ said Barbara Downs, a 55-year-old Chicagoan on Thursday morning, hours after she left Wednesday night’s game in tears.

Downs was confident enough that she brought the picture of her mother, a loyal Cubs fan who died four years ago without ever seeing the Cubs win the World Series.

But Cubs fans being Cubs fans, Wednesday night was not too soon to start talking about next year.

``They’re gonna win it, no doubt about it,″ said Alcala. ``They’re gonna win it just to prove they could have done it this year.″

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