The Curse of the Bambino

The damn Yankees won again, and another heartbreaking missed opportunity goes down in the annuls of baseball. Some will attribute it to the Curse of the Bambino, but I don’t believe in such things. At least that’s my public posture. In the deeper recesses of my mind, however, I harbor a fascination for these types of legends and stories. What if it’s really true?

Well, first of all, I don’t think Babe Ruth ever “cursed” the Red Sox for trading him to NY. So right there you have a misnomer that ought to invalidate the “curse.” Right? It should have been called something else, something akin to walking under a ladder or breaking a mirror. (I was going to say “having a black cat walk in front of you,” but that seems a bit out of your control.) Of course “The superstition of the bambino” doesn’t quite make it, nor does “the bad luck of the bambino.” I like “the hex of the bambino,” although it has the same connotation as the curse. The “omen”? Help me out here. I’m trying to avoid picking up a dictionary.

Anyway, why blame it on Ruth? Isn’t it really the fault of Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, who sold the Sultan of Swat in 1920 to finance his girlfriend’s play, No, No, Nanette? (Is she the real “babe” who cursed the Bosox?) This was the original sin that condemned the Red Sox, and their fans, to a lifetime of misfortune. Makes me wonder how long after the event the first reference to “the curse” was made. (Nice research project, no?) My guess is it took about a generation, say 20 years, for some sports writer to notice that the Red Sox hadn’t won a series since selling Ruth (and, of course, the Yankees HAD).

As to what happened last night, I attribute it to Pedro Martinez being left in the game too long. The announcers were conjecturing that the manager asked Pedro if he wanted to be replaced and he said no. Well, duh, pitchers never want to be replaced! You have to yank them out when the other team begins to hit them (as they always do). The home run by Boone in the 11th was just one of those random baseball things that govern most games. Pitchers keep pitching, hitters keep swinging, and sooner or later, somebody hits one over the fence in fair territory. For games like last night, you may as well flip a coin. Or play rock, paper, scissors.

DadHistories10/17/03 2 comments


Dan • 10/17/03 1:21 PM:

You can find a black cat walking and then let it walk in front of you. You should have said that.

Patrick • 10/24/03 9:24 AM:

I think that even in the totally rational sphere, these legends exert an influence because people believe them. That’s they power they have. Beyond that, I am no longer so quick to pass judgment against beliefs that we’d normally call superstitious, because one man’s religion is another man’s superstition. Granted, I know that there’s a demonstrable continuum, and that you can’t just equalize all beliefs (subjectivity gone wild!). But I think there’s more out there than even science can understand. In spite of that recent SciAm article, most of science is decidedly anti-religious. Maybe not antagonistic against religion, but it tends to treat belief in God as “superstition.” If I can believe in God, then why can’t I allow a sneaking suspicion that maybe the Red Sox are cursed? Or that Haitians can do voodoo? Or that ghosts haunt certain houses? Or that sometimes statues cry or Mary appears to peasants. I haven’t seen any of these things, they haven’t convinced me yet, and I’m not really actively seeking to know, but I’m getting less certain that they’re impossible.

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