When it was erected in 1901, Philadelphia City Hall, topped with a statue of town founder William Penn, was the tallest building in the world. Sports fans never connected the statue with the success of its sports teams until one fateful day in March 1987. On that day, a new skyscraper, One Liberty Place, was erected, dwarfing the statue of Billy Penn by almost 400 feet. Immediately, Philadelphia sports teams were plunged into a decades-long losing streak.
The curse of Billy Penn not only affected hometown baseball heroes, the Phillies. It also affected Philadelphia's other sports franchises. In the years that One Liberty Place overshadowed the statue of William Penn, The Flyers lost the Stanley Cup finals, the Eagles crashed and burned in the NFC Championships and the 76ers blew the NBA finals. There was even a Pennsylvania racehorse that bombed at Belmont.
Some scoff at the idea that a statue could curse the sports dreams of an entire city. Those scoffers were silenced, however, when the Phillies rallied to win the 2008 World Series. It turned out that a couple of enterprising ironworkers had snuck a statuette of William Penn onto the top of The Comcast Center, which in 2007 had surpassed One Liberty Place as Philly's tallest building.
The curse of Billy Penn isn't the only famous baseball curse to have been levied by an inanimate object. The curse of Captain Eddie is coming up next!