(OSWEGO) Goat heads and book sales don’t generally go hand in hand, unless you’re Chris Neitzel.
We won’t come out and say that Neitzel himself sent a goat head to Cubs central recently, but if he did, it was one heck of a marketing stunt. The longtime Oswego High School teacher and head baseball coach released his first book this month, and the hoopla surrounding Chicago’s allegedly cursed Cubbies couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It was just dumb luck, the goat head thing,” Neitzel said. “My book tries to dispel that nonsense.”
Instead of blaming Bartman, Neitzel’s book, “Beyond Bartman, Curses and Goats: 104 Reasons Why It’s Been 104 Years,” looks at more tangible reasons the team hasn’t won the World Series in more than a century.
“I wanted to look at it logically, instead of blaming a goat,” Neitzel, a lifelong Cubs fan, said of his approach. So, instead of fixating on fantasy, Neitzel set out on a mission to record every misstep and mistake made by the team over the last 104 years. In the end, he came up with 104 reasons Cubs fans have not gotten their big W.
From near misses, to poor drafts, and players that got away, Neitzel takes a detailed look at the team’s records. He calls it a self-help book; one that helped him sleep at night.
“I think I was kind of freakish in the amount of useless Cubs knowledge, and so I put it to good use,” Neitzel said. Which makes sense — Neitzel became a lifer at age 9 when he was invited onto the field as a batboy for the Chicago team during spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“His Dream Came True” was the 1978 headline that accompanied a Beacon-News article about a young Chris Neitzel’s on-field adventure.
“It was a defining moment that hooked me in,” he said of the experience. “I went from being a fan, to having an addiction … I connect the Cubs to every element of my life,” even his wedding day.
“I can tell you that the day I got married the Cubs traded Danny Jackson,” he said. “[The team] is never far from you.”
In 2011, Neitzel put his knowledge to good use by contributing to Bleacher Nation, the Cubs’ top-rated fan blog. It was there where his idea to write his book was hatched.
“I knew this idea was something I had to run with,” he said. And, with blog founder Brett Taylor on board (he wrote the forward to Neitzel’s book), “Beyond Bartman, Curses and Goats” was born.
“No matter how well it does, just having a published book is the coolest thing in the world,” Neitzel said.
The book is available on Amazon.com, or locally at the Village Grind coffee shop in downtown Oswego. An electronic version of the book will be available in the near future. Check out the Bleacher Nation blog for the official E-book rollout.
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