1935: Billy Sianis' Goat

430 N Michigan Ave Chicagoundefined

The Curse of Peg Leg Sullivan/1935: Billy Sianis' Goat
The House Theatre
Written By The House Theatre

The House is Chicago's premier home for intimate, original works of epic story and stagecraft. Founded and led by Artistic Director Nathan Allen and driven by an interdisciplinary ensemble of Chicago’s next generation of great storytellers, The House aims to become a laboratory and platform for the evolution of the American theatre as an inclusive and popular artform.

Billy Sianis opened his very own sports bar in 1934 when he purchased the Lincoln Tavern for $205. The sports bar, located across the street from Chicago Stadium where the Blackhawks and Bulls used to play, became a destination for Chicago sports fan to watch their favorite teams. 

An old man pushing ninety, Peg Leg Sullivan retired to a small parcel of farmland outside of Chicago and became a goat farmer. One morning in 1935, Peg Leg loaded his prized goat, Leary (named for the O’Leary family by an unrepentant Sullivan), into his pickup truck and drove to Chicago to show off his goat at a county fair. As he drove through Chicago, the city that had raised and tortured him, Peg Leg Sullivan suddenly went into cardiac arrest and died at the wheel.The truck skidded off the road and crashed into a newspaper stand. Luckily, no pedestrians were hurt and when police arrived on the scene all they found was a dead man in the driver’s seat. Leary the goat escaped from the back of the truck unharmed and unnoticed, and wandered the streets of Chicago in search of refuge. After many hours, the goat walked into Sianis’ tavern and up to the bar. Billy Sianis immediately took a liking to the animal and decided to adopt the goat, naming him Murphy. Murphy quickly became a staple of the bar, which Sianis renamed the Billy Goat Tavern after he acquired the nickname “Billy Goat” Sianis. Billy Sianis even grew a goatee to mirror the appearance of his animal companion. Billy and Murphy were inseparable, for better and for worse. Because, of course, Murphy carried Peg Leg’s curse.

On October 6, 1945, the Chicago Cubs played the Detroit Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series at Wrigley Field. Sianis, looking to cheer on his hometown Cubbies, bought two tickets to the game, one for himself and one for Murphy the goat. When they arrived at the gate, the ushers forbid the two from entering as no animals were allowed in the stadium. Billy appealed to Cubs’ owner P.K. Wrigley who also refused entrance to the goat on account of his stench. Billy stormed off, goat in tow, and in the heat of his anger, the spurned tavern owner growled his fateful curse: 

"Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more!" 

Sianis himself didn’t have the power to make that curse a reality. But Murphy did, and the Cubbies took 108 years to return to the World Series after 1945 when the curse originated. The Billy Goat Tavern, however, has thrived under the leadership of Sam Sianis, nephew of Billy Goat, opening locations all over Chicago. Serving the famous Cheezeborger, the Billy Goat, as well as the curse it spawned, has become a Chicago institution. 

SHEEZBORGER CHEESBORGER CHEEZPORGER CHEEZBORKER WHEEZBORGER GHEEZBORGER — Saturday Night Live, 1975
Answer is 6 letters.
What word is hidden in chapter 8 — and the courtyard of Holy Name?
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The Curse of Peg Leg Sullivan

1935: Billy Sianis' Goat

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