Looking Back at Curses in Sports


Flickr / Guano

Chelsea McBay
Staff Writer

Curses pop up here and there in our society. One place they tend to make an appearance is in sports. Some of the most famous examples of sports curses are the curse of Rocky Colavito, the curse of Bobby Layne, the Madden curse, the curse of the Bambino and the Billy Goat curse.

There are many famous curses within Major League Baseball. One of these curses is the Rocky Colavito trade. The Rocky curse originated on April 17, 1960. Colavito learned that he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for AL batting champion Harvey Kuenn during a preseason game. At that time, Rocky was a star for the Indians as well as a fan favorite. At the prime age of 26, he had 41 and 42 homers the last two seasons, which was more than any other player in the American League at the time. Contract negotiation is believed to be the cause, as Colavito was seeking a raise in his contract during the off-season. Colavito never got a raise while he played at Cleveland, which people thought was ridiculous considering he hit 42 homers and had 111 RBI in 1959. The player he got traded for, Kuenn, was very good at hitting singles but was not nearly as good as Colavito, so the franchise basically ripped itself off with the terrible trade. The Indians finally realized their mistake in 1965 and decided to bring Colavito back later in his career. Colavito claimed to love Cleveland and that he never wanted to leave, so he blames the trade and the inevitable downfall of the franchise on the general manager, Frank Lane.

Another famous baseball curse is the Curse of the Billy Goat. This particular curse pertains to the Chicago Cubs and afflicted them for generations. The billy goat superstition originated in 1946, when a goat got kicked out of Wrigley field because it of its odor. The owner of said goat, Billy Sianis, got mad at the Cubs management for kicking him and his goat out of the stadium. He then placed a curse on the Cubs by allegedly saying, “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field.” The hex officially ended in 1970 when Billy Sianis died, but it did little in terms of bringing a championship to the Cubs franchise. Finally, just last year, the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 4-3 in the World Series in dramatic fashion. The organization’s first title since 1908.

Arguably the most famous of the National Football League curses is the curse of Bobby Layne. Layne played for the Detroit Lions in the 1950s and was the best quarterback in the first half of the decade. He was a general star and a leader in the Lions’ locker room. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a new draft picks and a prospect. Looking back, the trade makes no sense. As Layne left the Lions locker room for the last time, he was quoted as saying that “The team will not win for another 50 years.” And so the tumultuous times for the Lions began. They spent the next five decades trudging through playoff losses, terrible records and quarterback controversies. Despite his headstrong personality, it did not stop his performance on the field and the success he brought to the team. Trading him have proved to be a costly mistake.  

However, the most famous sports curse has to be the Curse of the Bambino. A casual watcher of sports knows that “The Bambino” is larger than life star, Babe Ruth. After being signed by the Baltimore Orioles, the young Ruth was shipped to the Boston Red Soxs where his pitching abilities helped the team capture three championships in 1915 and 1917-18. Despite this and Ruth’s growing talents at the plate, Red Sox’s owner, Harry Frazee decided to sell Ruth for a $300,000 loan and $100,000 in cash. Honestly, nobody really knows why he decided to do this. Some theories are that their owner found Babe hard to handle, the fact that Frazee was in debt or that Harry needed money for his Broadway productions. This terrible trade henceforth plunged the Red Sox into a World Series drought until 2004 when they swept the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0.

Sports curses and myths are prominent throughout all of sports. They have weird coincidences and strange happenings. But, all-in-all, they are pretty entertaining to read and learn about. Hopefully they just don’t pertain to any of your teams.

Categories: Industry News, Sports

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