PHILADELPHIA -- Apparently William Penn is no longer mad about the Liberty Place skyscraper. The Phillies exorcised any curse that may have been hovering over this city when they defeated the Rays in the World Series, bringing Philly its first major sports title since the Sixers were champions of the NBA in 1983.
It all started in 1987, when the Liberty Place skyscraper rose higher than the statue of William Penn that sits atop City Hall. Prior to that, a gentleman's agreement had been in place, mandating that no building could exceed the height of the city's founding father. Ever since then, a troubling distinction had grown more and more clear: The city experienced a golden age of sports success before the skyscraper, with the Flyers winning the Stanley Cup in 1974 and '75, the 1980 Eagles reaching the Super Bowl and the Phillies of the same year winning their only World Series. But after the Sixers won their title in '83, the flow of success was halted. "Philadelphia was the city of champions," said Rob Marcolina, a fan who produced a film about the curse. "I'm thinking, 'Man, this is gonna happen every year. What a great sports city.'" The Curse of William Penn, as it is known, didn't have quite the same longevity as Chicago's Curse of the Billy Goat or Boston's Curse of the Bambino. The Cubs, having lost in the first round of the playoffs this year, guaranteed that they and their fans will hear -- for at least one more season -- the tale of Billy Sianis, the disgruntled goat owner who decreed that no World Series game would ever again be played in Wrigley Field after he and his pet goat were removed from the 1945 World Series. Boston fans no longer have to hear about the Curse of the Bambino -- which supposedly started in the wake of the Red Sox's 1918 Fall Classic win -- after capturing World Series titles in 2004 and '07. Preemptive efforts were made to ensure that Philly fans could put to rest any discussion of the Curse of William Penn. In 2007, the Comcast Center took its place as the city's new highest point. Liberty Property Trust, the center's builder, made an effort to mollify the sports gods by affixing a 25-inch statue of William Penn to the structure's highest point. It looks like the move paid off. With the Phillies beating the Rays to earn the franchise's second World Series title, William Penn -- albeit a much smaller one, as the 25-inch statue that was initially placed there was stolen -- is once again enjoying the top perch in the city. It was all part of the plan, said Jeanne Leonard, a spokeswoman for Liberty Property Trust. "To reinforce that the building would lift whatever curse there is, we decided that he would take his rightful place at the top of the city again," Leonard said.
Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.