The Odd Stories That Could Only Happen to the Cubs: Charles Murphy

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In preparation for this series on the supposed curses that have haunted the Chicago Cubs, I have done a lot of research on Cubs history and heard a lot of interesting stories. This weeks edition comes because of a tip from World Series Dreaming fan Pete D’Alessandro.

In 1945, Billy Sianis placed the alleged curse on the Cubs which has been the rumored reason why the beloved North Siders have been unable to even get to the World Series in the last 68 years. This is supposedly the reason why the Cubs fail year in and year out, and the reason many Cub fans point to as the reason why. However, if there really are curses, what about the previous 37 years? If there are curses, I think the Cub fans are looking at the wrong moment in Cubs history.

Back in 1907 and 1908 the Cubs won the World Series thanks in part to a trio of Cubbies: Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance. At the time of their dominance in baseball, their owner was Charlie Murphy, who became the owner of the ball club in 1906 after receiving a loan from Charles Phelps Taft.

Now, Murphy was a hated man in baseball, and notoriously very cheap. His players hated him, the other owners hated him and the media hated him. In fact, Murphy took so much heat from everyone in the world of baseball that he was pretty much chased out of the game. In 1913, Murphy folded under the pressure and sold the Cubs in 1913 to Taft. As the story goes, upon selling the team Murphy declared that the Cubs would never again win the World Series since he was responsible for them getting to three consecutive World Series (four over all) and winning two of them.

If that were the end of the story, there could be some finger pointing at him for laying the curse since the Cubs have not won the World Series since he sold the ball club. But that is not the end of the story, not even close. Looking back throughout Cubs history, just about every single bad moment that the Cubs suffered through, the name Murphy was in the air.

You all know the story of the billy goat curse, which I will get into down the road. However, what some of you may not know, is the name of the goat. Yes, Sianis named his goat as people tend to do for their pets. His goat’s name was Murphy.

Think that is just a simple coincidence? Sianis naming his goat Murphy may very well be nothing more than a coincidence. However, that is not where this story ends.

Move forward to the year 1969, the year of that dreaded collapse. Even Cub fans who were not born yet know what happened that year. The Cubs blew a nine game lead to the “Miracle Mets”, and the scapegoat that year was a black cat who crossed the path of Ron Santo and the Cubs dugout in New York. No, I am not going to tell you that the cat’s name is Murphy. I do not know what the cat’s name was. However, Murphy was present in that game too.

The broadcaster for that game, was none other than Bob Murphy. Yet another appearance of a Murphy at a tragic moment in Cubs history. Perhaps this is simply just another coincidence and they are not connected. That is most likely, because Murphy is a fairly popular name, especially for a last name. But let’s move on.

The year was 1984. You know this as well I am afraid. Cubs had a two game lead in the series, only needing to win one more. You know what happened though. The ball went right through Leon Durham’s legs. The hitter was Tim Flannery. Two batters later Tony Gwinn doubled home two runs as a ball bounced off of a pebble and bounded right past Ryne Sandberg. No sign of a Murphy right?

Wrong. The Steve Garvey home run, the ball through Durham’s legs, the ball off the pebble. They all took place at Jack Murphy stadium.

Another coincidence? Perhaps. But when does the trend stop being a coincidence, and when does this start gaining steam as the real curse behind the Cubs? Once is a coincidence. Twice could even be considered a coincidence. But when you hit three separate occasions, declaring this as nothing more than a coincidence gets a little tougher.
While there was a Murphy on the Arizona Diamondbascks in 2007 when the Cubs got swept by them in the National League Division Series, Bill Murphy did not appear in the game, so not sure this one counts.

That being said, the 1984 season s where the Murphy name vanishes. I have not found any serious connections to Murphy for any of the season failures since 1984. So I ask you. Is the “Curse of Murphy” a coincidence, or perhaps something more? Perhaps trying to connect Murphy to as many failures as possible in Cubs history is a bit of a stretch, but this at least gives you something to think about.

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