Wednesday 5 October 2016

The Dugout Cements Chicago Cubs Lovable Losers Image

"The Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more." (Billy Sianis, 1945)

Norman Rockwell: The Dugout

The Dugout by Norman Rockwell courtesy 

It was a double header between the Boston Braves and the Chciago Cubs on May 23, 1948.  The Cubs lost miserably, 5 to 8 in the first game, 4 to 12 in the second.  Norman Rockwell captured the disappointment of the day in his painting The Dugout.

The picture features four Chicago Cubs players and their batboy.  The model for the boy was a real batboy named Frank McNulty.  He had trouble getting into character, however, because he worked for the opposing team. All star pitcher Johnny Schmitz, the next at bat, waits nervously in the dugout.  Three Cubs sit in shadows in the dugout, their chins resting in their hands, disgusted at the turn of events.  In the middle sits manager Charlie Grimm; perhaps he's thinking about the unemployment line.  In the backgrouns sit the hometown fans, jeering at the Cubs.  Their delighted expressions suggest that the Cubs have just made a grave error.

Some of the models in the crowd were related to real life players.  The girl furthest to the left is the daughter of Braves' coach Freddie Fitzsimmons.  The girl to the left of the batboy's head is Theresa Prendergrast, wife of Jim Prendergrast, one of the Braves' pitchers.  Rockwell himself appears in the upper left corner of the painting as one of the members of the jeering crowd.

Two years before Rockwell painted the watercolour, in 1945, a man named Billy Sianis bought two tickets to the World Series at Wrigley Field, one for himself and one for his goat.  Mr. Sianis, a Greek immigrant, owned the Billy Goat Tavern, named after a goat that fell off a truck and wandered into his bar 11 years before.  He adopted the goat.  Upon smelling the creature, Mr. Wrigley ejected the pair.  Mr. Sianis' response was;  "The Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more," hence known as the Curse of the Billy Goat.  After the Cubs lost the series to the Detroit Tigers, Mr. Sianis sent Mr. Wrigley a note asking:  "Who stinks now?" The team has not appeared in a World Series since 1945, hence cementing the moniker "Lovable Losers" (

Mr. Sianis, second from left, stands with Chicago fans and his beloved goat courtesy

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