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Phil Cavaretta Explains the Curse of the Billy Goat

Aired October 15, 2003 - 11:22   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well Chicago's long-suffering era dates back to 1945. That is when a fan put the billy goat curse on the cubs. Phil Cavaretta played for the cubs in the '30s and '40s. He was part of the last World Series team in 1945. We've tracked him down at home once in suburban Atlanta. Phil is with us.
Phil, I want to say good morning but I don't know how good you think it is.

PHIL CAVARETTA, CUBS 1934-1953, FORMER MVP: Well, after last night's game it's not one of the happier moments. But today's a new day, so to speak. I think we're still going to do it with Woods pitching and if we could score a few more runs, we'll see a World Series -- in Chicago.

KAGAN: Want to talk about game seven in just a minute. But, first of all, going back to last night. Take us as if we were sitting in your living room with you in the eighth inning going to when that fan caught the ball. What were you thinking?

CAVARETTA: Well, actually, from what I can see on TV and looking in the newspaper this morning, actually I thought the ball was in the stands and the rule says if the ball is in the stands, I mean, there's no play whatsoever. But if it's in fair territory, that's interference.

So what I can see, to me, it was in the stand and it had no bearing on the game, whatsoever.

KAGAN: It just looks so close like Moises Alou could have reached up and gotten it. Now, Phil, do you have a little bit of time to spend with us?

CAVARETTA: Beg your pardon?

KAGAN: Do you have a little bit of time? Can you hang on just a second?


KAGAN: We need to fit in a little bit of commercial. I have a lot more I want to talk to you about especially with game seven just a few hours away. So, Phil Cavaretta, 1945 member of the Chicago Cubs, last time the Cubs went the World Series. Phil's going to stay with us. I hoe you will too. First, a quick break. We'll be back after this.


KAGAN: Want to bring back our guest Phil Cavaretta. Let me tell you a little bit about Phil Cavaretta. In 1945, he wins the National League MVP. He was also -- he won the batting title and that led the Chicago Cubs to the World Series back in '45, the last time they were there. He's our guest, yet again today.

Phil, it is so good to have you here with us on what is a very difficult day for Cubs fans. Of course, it's not all over. We still have game seven. Before we talk game seven, I want to ask you about this curse of the billy goat. Do you believe in it?

CAVARETTA: Do I believe it?


CAVARETTA: No. 1, I'm not a superstitious man and I don't think that had anything to do with the ball game. But publicity wise, I guess it makes a good story. But I don't think it had anything to do with the ball game. And that's my opinion, to be honest with you. It's up to the players.

KAGAN: As I understand it, this curse does go back to 1945, back to the last time that the Cubs were in the World Series. For people who didn't grow up in and around Chicago, can you tell us how it got started?

CAVARETTA: Well, in 1945, actually, once again, the billy goat had nothing to do with it. I think we had more problems with Hal Newhouser, the pitcher out there, and Virgil Trucks and Hank Greenberg. No billy goat, whatsoever. And especially Newhouser who we all know, may his soul rest in peace, Hall of Famer. He's the one that beat us, not the billy goat.

KAGAN: So you're saying it's the curse of coming up against good pitching, which is a whole different type of problem.

CAVARETTA: There you go, good pitching and he'll beat you. Good defense wins most of the time.

KAGAN: If you want to talk good pitching, who else do you want on the mound tonight besides Kerry Wood for the Chicago Cubs?

CAVARETTA: Well he would be my -- if I were managing the Cubs in the seventh game of the World Series, or any important game, so to speak -- I'd pick Woods. He's had a little more experience than Prior and the rest of the staff. And personally speaking, I think he's going to do all right. Again, like I say, if we can get a few runs, we'll win.

KAGAN: He has had some great stuff, no doubt. Not just this season, but especially in the playoffs.

Now since you have been in the World Series, I want you, as if you had a chance to go into the Cubs locker room and talk to them or perhaps the Cubs dugout, give them, and the Cubs fans out there, a pep talk right now, Phil, so they can still believe in game seven.

CAVARETTA: As far as a pep talk is concerned, I'm sure their manager Baker is going to have a little chat with them. I don't think it's going to be a long meeting, so to speak.

These are all professional people, ballplayers. They've been around and had a lot of experience and lost a lot of tough ball games. And it's up to the players themselves, the individuals that go out there and give 100 percent and forget about what happened last night, so to speak. And, again, I keep repeating, I think they're going to win.

KAGAN: All right. Well, if they do, will you come back with us tomorrow?

CAVARETTA: Yes, ma'am.

KAGAN: OK, we'll save a seat for you, Phil.

CAVARETTA: Thank you.

KAGAN: Phil Cavaretta, member of the Chicago Cubs 1945, last time they went to the World Series. Thanks for being with us. Perhaps well see him tomorrow, perhaps we'll see a bunch happy Florida Marlins fans, instead.


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