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The Curse of Billy Penn
The Curse of Billy Penn
::2013/07/30::
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The Curse of William Penn
The Curse of William Penn
::2010/05/03::
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3
The Curse of Billy Penn
The Curse of Billy Penn
::2013/06/06::
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"The Curse of Billy Penn" April 2011
"The Curse of Billy Penn" April 2011
::2011/10/24::
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The Curse of Billy Penn (KAV trio)
The Curse of Billy Penn (KAV trio)
::2011/02/24::
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Phillies Postseason 2008: Part 2 (World Series & Parade)
Phillies Postseason 2008: Part 2 (World Series & Parade)
::2008/11/11::
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Group 3 Section 4
Group 3 Section 4
::2008/11/16::
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Top 10 Sports Curses!
Top 10 Sports Curses!
::2011/11/09::
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Group 12 Second Philly Project
Group 12 Second Philly Project
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NY Amp Show Interview With Aleksander Niemand - Billy Penn 3
NY Amp Show Interview With Aleksander Niemand - Billy Penn 3
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Curse of the Billy Goat
Curse of the Billy Goat
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Day 205 of Firsts: To the Roof of the Comcast Building!  Whoa Baby!
Day 205 of Firsts: To the Roof of the Comcast Building! Whoa Baby!
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Billy Bones & The Curse of Davey Jones by Albion Magic
Billy Bones & The Curse of Davey Jones by Albion Magic
::2013/03/24::
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BILLY PENN - OTIS
BILLY PENN - OTIS
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Erase the Curse
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Top 10 Sports Curses
Top 10 Sports Curses
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An End to the Curse of William Penn
An End to the Curse of William Penn
::2008/11/03::
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The Curse of William Penn
The Curse of William Penn
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BILLY GOAT PENN
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::2013/03/30::
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The Curse of William Penn
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Elton John and Billy Joel Face to Face Interviews 1997 1998
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Sean Penn: Flips Out On Fan, Slams Fan Cellphone
Sean Penn: Flips Out On Fan, Slams Fan Cellphone
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Comcast commercial Phillies ended The Curse of William Penn
Comcast commercial Phillies ended The Curse of William Penn
::2009/02/27::
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Sports Palava: Is It Time To Break The Benfica Curse? Part 1
Sports Palava: Is It Time To Break The Benfica Curse? Part 1
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::2013/11/24::
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::2013/12/30::
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William Penn
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::2012/08/19::
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Green Day
Green Day's Billie Joe Freaks Out Blasts Justin Bieber And Smashes Guitar (iHeartRadio Festival)
::2012/09/22::
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Curse of the Bambino (American History Project)
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Billy Baldwin
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Billy The Mime In "JFK Jr. We Hardly Knew Ye"
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BILLY JOEL   Interview Backstage at Madison Square Garden during 12 Gardens Live
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Inside the Actors Studio "The Questionnare Best Respons"
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1987 Unveiling of Restored William Penn Statue
1987 Unveiling of Restored William Penn Statue
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Sean Penn FLIPS OUT on Fan --
Sean Penn FLIPS OUT on Fan -- 'I'll Make You Eat Your Cell Phone!'
::2013/11/20::
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Bonnie Prince Billy - The Seedling - Daytrotter Session
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::2014/09/04::
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Billy Bauer Band
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the cursed collar (read description) (old)
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Lay and Love - Bonnie Prince Billie
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Elizabeth Milroy on William Penn
Elizabeth Milroy on William Penn's Plan for Philadelphia
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See (one) of The Best Views in Philadelphia: William Penn
See (one) of The Best Views in Philadelphia: William Penn's Wood!!!
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Cover of Bonnie
Cover of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's song Horses
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Curse of the Night Demon (2013) Full Movie
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Marilyn McCoo Billy Davis Anita Pointer & Others About Kathy Ireland
Marilyn McCoo Billy Davis Anita Pointer & Others About Kathy Ireland's Philanthropy
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curse of the bambino
curse of the bambino
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BREAKING THE CURSE, REVIVAL
BREAKING THE CURSE, REVIVAL
::2012/11/17::
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Billy Burger - Just Like A Woman at the Kennett Flash 5/25/11 (new edit)
Billy Burger - Just Like A Woman at the Kennett Flash 5/25/11 (new edit)
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Philadelphia City Hall, with statue of William Penn at top of tower

The Curse of Billy Penn was a curse used to explain the failure of major professional sports teams based in Philadelphia to win championships since the March 1987 construction of the One Liberty Place skyscraper, which exceeded the height of William Penn's statue atop Philadelphia City Hall.[1]

The curse apparently ended on October 29, 2008, when the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series, a year and four months after a statuette of the William Penn figure atop City Hall was affixed to the final beam during the June 2007 topping-off of the Comcast Center, currently the tallest building in the city.[2]

Origins of the curse[edit]

Atop Philadelphia City Hall stands a statue of William Penn, the city founder and original proprietor of the then-British colony of Pennsylvania (meaning "Penn's Woods").[3] For years, a "gentlemen's agreement" stated that the Philadelphia Art Commission would approve no building in the city which would rise above this statue.[4] This ended in March 1987, when a modern steel-and-glass skyscraper, One Liberty Place, opened three blocks away. One Liberty Place is taller than City Hall by 397 feet (121 m), rising 945 feet (288 m) in height compared to the height of Penn's hat on City Hall, 547 feet (167 m). Its sister skyscraper, Two Liberty Place, at 848 ft (258 m), followed in 1990.

Philadelphia sports teams had enjoyed a run of success. Major League Baseball's Phillies won the 1980 World Series and the 1983 National League pennant; the National Hockey League's Flyers won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, and appeared in the finals in 1976, 1980, 1985, and 1987; the National Football League's Eagles appeared in Super Bowl XV following the 1980 season, losing to the Oakland Raiders; and the National Basketball Association's 76ers swept the 1983 NBA Finals, as well as making the finals in 1977, 1980, and 1982. Before 1980, the Phillies had appeared in only two other World Series, in 1915 and 1950, and the Eagles had won no NFC conference championships since the 1966 agreement that had created the Super Bowl, while the 76ers won NBA titles in both Philadelphia and in their previous incarnation, the Syracuse Nationals. Construction on One Liberty Place began in 1985, two years after the last championship season in Philadelphia.

In the 1980 season, all four teams reached the championship round of their respective leagues. Ultimately, only the Phillies would win a championship that year.

Philadelphia sports since the curse's inception[edit]

Major-league sports[edit]

View of Philadelphia skyline from Citizens Bank Park in 2004. William Penn's statue can be seen one-quarter from the right. Note height relationship to the newer buildings to the left. The tallest building (with antenna) is One Liberty Place

After One Liberty Place opened, Philadelphia's franchises began a pattern of failures to win a world championship. The Flyers lost the Stanley Cup Finals twice, in 1987 to the Edmonton Oilers in seven games (although the Oilers were heavily favored), two months after One Liberty Place opened, and in 1997, in a four-game sweep by the Detroit Red Wings which was considered a collapse as the Flyers had home-ice advantage and had dominated the previous three playoff series. The Phillies lost the 1993 World Series in six games to the Toronto Blue Jays, with the Series ending on Joe Carter's walkoff 3-run home run. The 76ers lost the 2001 NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games, although the Lakers were favored despite the Sixers having league MVP Allen Iverson. The Eagles lost three straight NFC Championship games from the 2001 through 2003 seasons, before reaching Super Bowl XXXIX after the 2004 season, only to lose to the New England Patriots by three points.

In fact, the only years that Philadelphia's franchises reached their league's championship round after One Liberty Place opened were years that presidents were inaugurated, except for the Flyers in 1987,[5] and losses during such years date back to the 76ers loss in 1977.[5] When the Flyers played for the 2010 Stanley Cup, The Ottawa Citizen reported that the main reason for that lengthy championship drought was because the only years the city's teams played for championships during that time were years presidents were inaugurated.[5] The city's teams had lost championships during such years, beginning with the 76ers themselves in 1977.[5] The exceptions were the Phillies in 1983 and the Flyers in 1987.[5]

In addition, losses in semifinal rounds had occurred eight times since the opening of One Liberty Place. Five of these semi-final eliminations were by the Flyers, in 1989, 1995, 2000, 2004 and 2008. The 2000 team was one win away from a Stanley Cup Finals appearance, after leading the eventual champion New Jersey Devils 3-1 before losing three straight (including Games 5 and 7 at home), the 2004 team lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning, and the 2008 team lost to their cross-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins in five games. The Eagles accounted for the other three conference-final losses; they lost the NFC Championship Game (the winner of which meets the winner of the AFC's corresponding game in the Super Bowl) three years in a row from 2001 to 2003, thus becoming the first NFL team to do this in either conference since the Dallas Cowboys of 19801982, losing the last two at home after posting the best record in the NFC. No other team in NFL history had lost back-to-back conference title games at home since the NFL began its practice in 1975 of awarding home-field advantage in postseason play based on regular-season record.

During the period of the alleged Curse of Billy Penn, Philadelphia sports fans were infamous for rude and unsportsmanlike behavior. On Nov. 10, 1997, an Eagles fan shot a flare gun across the field into the stands during a nationally televised Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers. Fans pelted national TV broadcasters with snowballs during a Cowboys-Eagles game in 1989. Ten years later, Sports Illustrated blamed the fans' behavior on their teams' longtime poor quality of play, as seen in the forty-year championship drought for the Eagles and the 76ers' 1972-1973 season, which was the worst in NBA history at 9-73.[6]

Other sports[edit]

Bronze statue of William Penn atop Philadelphia City Hall

The curse was also said to include Bensalem-Township-based thoroughbred racehorse Smarty Jones, who saw his bid for horse racing's Triple Crown disappear when he finished second in the 2004 Belmont Stakes behind 36-1 longshot Birdstone after victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

Although the curse was not generally considered as extending to college sports, two Philadelphia-based college basketball teams, the St. Joseph's Hawks and the Villanova Wildcats, which had successful seasons in 2004 and 2006 respectively, failed to reach the Final Four of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Both were eliminated in the fourth-round Elite Eight matches, with St. Joe's, first seed in the East Regional, losing in a close match to Oklahoma State, and Villanova, first seed in the Minneapolis Regional, falling to eventual NCAA-champion Florida. Villanova won the national championship in 1985, two years before the Liberty Place opening, but has not since. A third Philadelphia team, the Temple Owls, has also lost five times in the Elite Eight (1988, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2001).

The curse, however, was apparently not extended to professional teams outside of the four major leagues. The Philadelphia Wings of the NLL (indoor lacrosse winter league) have won six titles since 1989, and the now-defunct Philadelphia Barrage of the MLL (outdoor summer lacrosse league) won three championships (2004, 2006, and 2007). The AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms, the Flyers' top minor-league affiliate from 1996 to 2009, won the Calder Cup championship in 1998 and 2005. Additionally, the Philadelphia KiXX of the MISL won their league's championship in 2002 and 2007. The AFL's Philadelphia Soul won ArenaBowl XXII in 2008. The Philadelphia Freedoms, a tennis team in the World Team Tennis League, also won titles in 2001 and 2006.

Decoration of Penn's statue[edit]

In spite of the Curse, when Philadelphia sports teams have reached their league's championship round, Penn's statue has sometimes been decorated to support that team's success. For example, after the Phillies won the 1993 National League pennant, Penn was fitted with an oversized red Phillies baseball cap; when the Flyers went to the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals, the city adorned Penn with an orange-torso-with-white-shoulders Flyers jersey (at the time, the combination was the Flyers' road jersey).

When the Sixers faced the Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals, Penn's statue was not decorated. Pat Croce, president and part-owner of the Sixers, said he would have "decked out" the statue had the Sixers won but not before.[7] Penn's statue was also left untouched when the Eagles went to Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005.

The Curse lifted[edit]

On June 18, 2007, ironworkers helped raise the final beam in the construction of the Comcast Center at 17th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard in downtown Philadelphia. The Comcast Center is currently the tallest building in the city at 975 ft (297.2 m). In an attempt to end the curse, workers John Joyce and Dan Ginion attached a small figurine of William Penn to the beam, along with the traditional American flag and small evergreen tree.[8]

After the first William Penn figurine was stolen, it was replaced with a smaller 4-inch figure.[2]

The Phillies win[edit]

Main article: 2008 World Series

On October 29, 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series in five games against the Tampa Bay Rays, ending the alleged Curse. During the TV coverage of parade which occurred two days later, Comcast aired an ad congratulating the Phillies which featured the small figurine of William Penn standing at the top of the Comcast Center.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chairusmi, Jim (June 12, 2007). "Does the Curse of Billy Penn Continue to Haunt Philadelphia?". The Wall Street Journal. 
  2. ^ a b Matza, Michael (October 22, 2008). "Lifting the curse of William Penn". philly.com. Archived from the original on 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  3. ^ Appleby, J Ph.D. (2005). The American Vision. Glencoe. p. 75. 
  4. ^ Major League Baseball on Fox: Game 5 of 2008 World Series. Fox Sports. October 27, 29, 2008.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ a b c d e Warren, Ken (June 2, 2010). "Two cities that could use a CUP". Ottawa Citizen. p. B3. 
  6. ^ 'There's no excuse for what we did': Philadelphia fans criticized for reaction to Irvin injury, Sports Illustrated, 1999-10-14. Accessed 2007-06-26.
  7. ^ Scally, Bernard J. (November 11, 2006). "Are Philadelphia sports teams cursed by the city founder?". RoxReview.com. 
  8. ^ Holcomb, Henry J. (June 18, 2007). "Comcast Center topped off". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

External links[edit]

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