While many in Chicago immediately thought of the famous “Billy Goat curse,” when a severed goat’s head was delivered to Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts at Wrigley Field this week, I immediately wondered if it was a message from the “Rahm-father,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
After all, Ricketts in the midst of intense negotiations with Emanuel’s administration over renovating the iconic 99-year old ballpark, as I reported last week.
The famously short-tempered Emanuel may be growing impatient and he has sent these kind of messages before. He once had a 2-1/2 foot long dead fish delivered to a pollster who messed up in a key House race.
In all seriousness, it’s quite a scary thing for the likable and extremely fan-accessible Ricketts to receive such a “gift.”
Cubs spokesman Julian Green told me Wednesday night that the severed goat’s head was in a box “dropped off at gate K by an unknown man in an unmarked truck” that afternoon. The man gave the box to a security guard and asked that it be delivered to Mr. Ricketts, whose family (Dad Joe Ricketts founded Ameritrade) purchased the baseball team in 2009, and the man quickly left.
Security officers opened the package (it was never delivered to Ricketts) and found the black severed goat’s head inside of it. Police are investigating, calling it an “intimidating package.” The head apparently had a USDA tag, which police are using to trace where it may have come from.
The mayor’s response? “It speaks for itself.”
That could sound intimidating if that was all Emanuel said about the goat’s head. Here is the full quote: “There’s nothing else to say, it speaks for itself, it’s wrong to do,” Emanuel told reporters Thursday. “I did call Tom last night, and said obviously that the police need to do something, we’ll be on it.”
When asked earlier by Chicago’s DNAinfo.com columnist Mark Konkol if Rahm has sent the head (he’s a longtime city hall reporter who’s first instinct was similar to mine), his spokeswoman responded with an emphatic, “No,” before adding, “it’s well known the mayor only sends dead fish.”
The goat’s head may have come from an angry neighbor of the ballpark, upset the Ricketts’ renovations will block their precious rooftop views of the games, or someone upset about the insane traffic that will likely increase around the ballpark.
But more than likely, the goat’s head probably came a fan with a sick sense of humor, upset about the Cubs poor start to the season and invoking the legendary “Billy Goat Curse.”
During the 1945 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Billy “Billy Goat” Sianis, founder of the legendary Billy Goat Tavern on lower Michigan Avenue in Chicago, tried to bring his pet goat to a game. Even though he had a ticket for him, the goat was not allowed in, and Billy cursed the Cubs, saying they’d never win again.
The Cubs haven’t been to the World Series since, even though his nephew Sam Siannis, the current proprietor of the now several Billy Goat taverns, has been able to bring goats into the ballpark several times and has pronounced the curse reversed.
The Chicago Tribune‘s John Kass reports today that Sam denies sending the head (he’d only send a live goat) and Kass himself, a White Sox fan with a fondness for goat’s head soup, also denies responsibility.
In the meantime (and I’m sure this is just a coincidence) I hear there may soon be a new Wrigley renovation counter proposal from Ricketts that suddenly satisfies some of the city’s and the neighbors’ concerns.
(NPR’s David Schaper is based in Chicago.)