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Friday, September 06, 2019

‘It’s My One Claim to Fame’: The Untold Story of the Cubs’ Black Cat Jinx

Fifty years ago this upcoming Monday—Sept. 9, 1969—the Chicago Cubs were clinging to a small but diminishing lead over the New York Mets in the National League East. The two teams were facing each other at Shea Stadium in New York, with their respective aces on the mound—Ferguson Jenkins for the Cubs and Tom Seaver for the Mets. And then, in top of the fourth, something bizarre happened that has become part of baseball lore: A black cat appeared in front of the Cubs dugout and pranced back and forth a few times before disappearing into the bowels of the ballpark.

The Mets went on to win the game, the pennant and the World Series. Meanwhile, the Black Cat Incident, as it was dubbed, became another chapter in the Cubs’ long-running history of misery, with the ebony feline—a notorious symbol of bad luck, of course—blamed for jinxing the team. Countless articles have been written about the incident, coupled with photographs documenting what unfolded 50 years ago this month.

Most photos of the incident show the cat approaching Chicago’s dugout while being eyed by Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who was in the on-deck circle. Therefore most accounts of the game, understandably, have featured recollections from Santo, Jenkins or other Cubs players who were in the dugout. This one, though, is different.

Take a closer look at the scene and you’ll notice another person in a Cubs uniform standing off to Santo’s side. That was the batboy. Like most batboys, he was anonymous, overlooked and forgotten. His name is Jim Flood, and the improbable story of how he ended up in the catbird seat for one of the most storied moments in baseball history has never been told—until now.

As a cat lover, it seems a deeply unfair call to me.

QLE Posted: September 06, 2019 at 11:53 PM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cats, cubs, jinx

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