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It Was No Monkey, but It Did the Job

October 18, 2003|Van Nightingale

All the talk of the curse under which the Boston Red Sox have labored brings to mind that Boston fans were the first to put the whammy on a World Series opponent.

In 1903, a troupe of Boston fans known as the Royal Rooters, led by tavern owner Mike "Nuf Ced" McGreevey -- so named for the final word he had on all arguments -- began to serenade the Pittsburgh Pirates with "Tessie," a popular song of the era:

"Tessie, you make me feel so sadly

Why don't you turn around

Tessie, you know I love you madly

Babe, my heart weighs a pound"

The Royal Rooters had their own version, however, such as when Pirate star Honus Wagner came to the plate:

"Honus, why do you hit so badly

Take a back seat and sit down

Honus, at bat you look so sadly

Hey, why don't you get out of town?"

As trivial as it might have seemed, the song seem to have the intended effect.

"I think those Boston fans actually won that Series," said Pittsburgh third baseman Tommy Leach, in Lawrence Ritter's "The Glory of Their Times," the seminal oral history of baseball in the early years of the 20th century. "We beat them three out of the first four games, and then in the fifth game of the Series the Royal Rooters started singing 'Tessie' for no particular reason at all.... Sort of got on your nerves after a while. And before we knew what happened, we'd lost the Series."

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-- Van Nightingale

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