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The Marketing of a Bambino
November 1, 2004
by Stephan Finch

I'm joyful that the Red Sox won, but I'm a little bored with all this talk about breaking a "Curse." The Red Sox won. There was no Curse. And there was no exorcism. This was just great baseball.

Every sportwriter from here to Lynn, Mass. keeps telling me I've been praying for an end to The Curse for a long time. But I keep scratching my head. When I was a kid, we never said "Oh, but for this Curse of the Bambino I might be a happier person." We never said: "The Red Sox are Cursed." No. We said: "The Red Sox fucking suck."

So where the hell did this idea of a Curse really came from? Did I miss something?

Turns out that The Curse of "mythical" proportions is... Well, it really is a myth. It's been propogated by people who like to sell t-shirts and hats with Bage Ruth's image on them and lame sportswriters who find it's easier to write about a "Curse" that never existed than it would be to closely examine and explain what happened in a baseball game.

The fact is, even though people now talk about "The Curse" or "The Curse of the Bambino" as though it's been around for decades, the idea of a "Curse" is really only 15 or 20 years old.

Take the phrase "Curse of the Bambino." Seems like it's been around for decades, right? After all, Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees in 1920, so it just makes sense that it's this ancient old curse that people have been talking about for years and years, right?

No. In fact, the first reference to the "Curse of the Bambino" was made in June 1990, when a sportswriter named Dan Shaughnessy published a book by that title. I searched millions of articles on Factiva, which has newspaper accounts going back to the early 1970s, and I find no articles referring to any curse involving any Bambino before 1990. However, since then, there have been 5,400 articles written referring to this "Curse of the Bambino." So a lot of us have falsely recovered a memory that the phrase existed earlier than 1990. It didn't.

"Curse of the Bambino?" Myth. And marketing.

Okay, you say, but even if it wasn't always called "the curse of the Bambino," surely people have been talking about "The Curse" on the Sox for decades, right?

Actually, no they haven't.

According to my Factiva search, the first reference to any "curse" on the Red Sox came during the 1986 Pennant series against the Angels. In that year, sportswriters were saying that the Angels and Red Sox seemed to be equally "cursed." And, they said, whichever team lost that series would be henceforth labeled as "cursed."

Uh, folks... The Bosox won that one. So, like, uh...

Anyway, I hate to be picky. This was a historic win. There was an 86-year-long drought broken. But there was no end to any "Curse" because there was no Curse. Just shitty staring pitching.

(Stephan Finch is a volunteer staff writer for 2 Walls Webzine)


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