Web Search powered by YAHOO! SEARCH

  

TEXT SIZE: A A A A
email this
print this
reprint or license this
BARBARA L. JOHNSTON / Staff Photographer
A pint-size William Penn has been placed atop the Comcast Center in an attempt to phend off the jinx Philly teams have been under since Liberty Place rose above City Hall.
1 of 2
PARTNER OFFER
2009 Phillies tickets
TicketNetwork Direct
ONGOING
Tickets: Check availability
Buy tickets online
RELATED STORIES
 
Phila.'s alarmingly high HIV rate
 
McCain-Palin cancel rally; Obama's rally goes on
 
Eight new cases of West Nile confirmed in area
 
Glimpse into troubled Family Fumo
 
Tainted by TV
 
U.S. health insurance costing $5,800 a year?
 
A colorful race for auditor general
 
Fort Dix informant's past is an issue
 
Cops: Killer engaged to accomplice
 
Obama will 'punish hard work,' Palin tells crowd
 
Shall we say fans are displeased about suspended Game 5
 
Elmer Smith: Bush the maverick
 
Fumo kin: I did dog work for him
 
Phillies disagree with shot at city, but beef up security after Rays squawk
 
Jenice Armstrong: Hudson's pain, and ours
 
Study: Rape treatment affected by skin color
 
Nutter delays cuts in budget for a week
 
Umps admit mistake in Game 4
 
Full Eagles coverage
 
Full Phillies coverage
 
Special Section: The Inquirer's World Series Preview
 
Special Section: Photos of the Phillies
 
At 85, a lifelong Phils fan has no regrets
 
Lifting the curse of William Penn
 
Bill Lyon: Kalas (Phils) reunited with Kalas (fils)
 
Roxborough woman, 93, going to her 45th Series
 
Phillies success a hit for local media, too
 
Cole Hamels: Cool customer
 
Eagles' Jackson had tools for baseball
 
Shades of '93 Phillies in Tampa turnaround
 
You Talking to Me? Ducking life's biggest questions
 
Blog Zone: Good news is bad
 
A Philly kid and the Whiz Kids
 
Former brothers in arms now opponents
 
Phillies Notes: Manuel still undecided on DH
 
Kazmir to lead off Rays' Series rotation
 
SEPTA adds service for sports complex
 
Baseball Notes: With his season over, Francona is on the mend
 
Todd Zolecki: The Phillies Zone
 
More on the Phillies
 
Buy Phillies jerseys, t-shirts, hats, and more
 
Purchase Phillies playoff photos reprints
Photos: 2008 Phillies
 
Championship wallpaper
 
Relive the memories: Coverage of the World Series run
SAVE AND SHARE


Lifting the curse of William Penn

He's a petite Penn, a wee Willy really, but the prayers of superstitious Phillies fans ride high today atop his tiny windblown shoulders.

Can the figurine on the roof of the Comcast Center, glued to the highest point, 975 feet above the ground, once and for all exorcise "the curse of William Penn" as the Fightin' Phils face the Tampa Bay Rays tonight in the World Series opener?

Legend has it that Philadelphia's sports teams have been jinxed from reaching champion status because real estate developers had the temerity to build higher than the top of the hat on the massive statue of William Penn above City Hall.

Philadelphia's image as a low-rise city was shattered in 1987, with the topping off of the Liberty Place skyscraper amid much brouhaha that "the gentlemen's agreement" not to overshadow Alexander Milne Calder's landmark statue of Penn was being violated.

Since then, more skyscrapers have followed, and the major Philadelphia teams have been denied their sport's top prize. Some fans have attributed the championship drought to a curse that the city's famous founder must have issued from the grave.

"I believe in the curse. I think there is something to it," said Sports Radio 950 talker Jody "Jody Mac" McDonald. "I'm not a superstitious guy by nature, but spitting in the eye of one of the founders of our city is a bad move."

Recognizing the currency of the curse without quite subscribing to it, the owners and managers of Comcast Center, the city's tallest building, had the foresight to affix a statuette of Penn to the final beam put in place during the June 2007 topping-off ceremony - just in case it could help, they said.

It didn't hurt that Comcast Corp. chief executive officer Brian Roberts and executive vice president David L. Cohen are avid Phillies fans.

So when the final beam went skyward that day, carrying the traditional evergreen branch and American flag, it also carried a Billy Penn "Mini Me" for good measure.

Somehow over time that voodoo Billy got swiped, perhaps as someone's souvenir, said D'Arcy Rudnay, Comcast's vice president of corporate communications. So without pomp or ceremony, a new, even smaller Billy was put in its place.

That 4-inch replica faces northeast, just as its mammoth inspiration does. And over the peewee Penn's shoulder on the southern horizon, amid planes landing at the airport and cars streaming to the Commodore Barry Bridge, sits Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phils.

"The more we lose, the more passionate we become," said Rob Marcolina, a University of Pennsylvania tech-support employee, who coproduced a 44-minute film about the curse and thinks it soon will be laid to rest.

"Now remember, I am a trained lawyer," Cohen said yesterday when asked about the curse and efforts to end it. "I'm trained to interpret things. My interpretation would be that putting Billy Penn on top of the highest piece of steel of any building in Philadelphia is enough to remove the curse."

Then, chuckling at what to him seemed the most delicious part, he added, "And you can't tell if I'm right until the Phillies win the World Series!"

 


Contact staff writer Michael Matza at 215-854-2541 or mmatza@phillynews.com.

 

  • Jobs
  • Cars
  • Real Estate
  • Rentals
 
SEARCH JOBS
Find a Car | Sell a Car | Research | Loans
Spotlight Deal

North Penn Imports Vw Mazda
(877) 762-8158
'06 Toyota Corolla LE
$14,595
'08 Kia Spectra
$13,995
'05 Jeep Liberty Sport
$14,990
'04 Pontiac Grand Am GT1
$12,399
SEARCH CARS Used  New 
Spotlight Deal
Fox Chase 19111
Spotlight Deal
Jenkintown 19046
SEARCH REAL ESTATE
Spotlight Deal
North Wales 19454
Spotlight Deal
Manayunk 19127
SEARCH RENTALS
find an event
We
Dec 3
Th
Dec 4
Fr
Dec 5
Sa
Dec 6
Su
Dec 7
Venue search: - by name
- by cuisine
- by venue type, e.g. "movie theater"
Location search:
- Philadelphia, PA
- 19101
- Center City
Venue search:
- by name
- by cuisine
- by venue type, e.g. "movie theater"
Location search:
- Philadelphia, PA
- 19101
- Center City
Date search:
Select which day you would like to search events, or select Search all days
Event search:
Type in the name of the event, or event type, e.g. 'live music'
SPORTS
Of late, the only consistency the Sixers had shown was in the results: four consecutive losses. But tonight, although they surrendered a 14-point lead, the Sixers ended their slide with a 103-95 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls.
OPINION


John Baer: TO: GOV. ED Re: Today's Obama/guvs gig

Despite short notice, this is a great opportunity. First, suck up big time.