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Win This Game For Catherine O'Leary

Catherine O'Leary and the cow

October 8, 1871.  Chicago, IL.  The entire Midwest is parched from a mighty drought.  A couple of fires have already hit Chicago and the Chicago Tribune prophetically writes that a 'big one' could develop if rain does not arrive.  Despite the average Chicago October having a low of 46 and a high of 64, October 8th, 1871 played out like this:

Table 1. Weather observations from October 8, 1871


6:35 a.m. CST

2:35 p.m. CST

10:35 p.m. CST


30.06 in

29.89 in.

29.94 in.






SW 19 mph

SW 22 mph

SSW 18 mph






With the current morning temperature of 52°F and the expected high today of 79°F, you can truly feel what the air in Chicago was like 139 years ago.  If you read this blog or are a fan of this team, you know that Chicago goes down to the ground in a fiery blaze that starts later in the evening.  You also know that Catherine O'Leary's reputation goes down to the ground in a string of fanciful reporting and outright lies.  She's not necessarily innocent, but she doesn't get a fair trial in the court of public opinion either.  

Chicago Fire, please win this game on your 13th birthday and the 139th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire for Catherine O'Leary.

Follow me after the jump.

As soon as the fire had settled and the Chicago Tribune resumed publishing, reporter Michael Ahern placed the blame on Catherine negligently leaving a lit lantern in her barn.  One of her cows tipped it over when she left and WHOOSH - Chicago burned to the ground.  The story inspired this nursery rhyme:

Late one night, when we were all in bed,
Old Mother Leary left a lantern in the shed,
And when the cow kicked it over, she winked her eye and said,
"There'll be a hot time on the old town tonight."

That rhyme inspired the famous Chicago Fire chant, which in turn inspired the name for this very blog (there's your ah-ha moment of the day if you hadn't figured that one out already).

Great story and purely that, a story.  Ahern later admitted he made the whole thing up... 22 years later to be exact in 1893.  The legend circulated around the world and many people still think she was guilty.  Mrs. O'Leary was one of the very first common citizens to have her life turned upside down by the press.  She had to move from her present day 558 W DeKoven home to the far reaches of the 5100 South block of Halsted.  She and her family were ostracized in public.  The press would kick up the story and seek her out for interviews every year until she died in 1895, yes even in the two years after Ahern cleared her name. 

If a similar story happened today, she probably would have become some kind of reality TV star.  Oxygen's C'learity - Catherine O'Leary sits down with you and helps you with your problems before they become a great disaster.  E! Presents: Catherine in the City - What kind of trouble will Cathy get into as she goes from one city to the next?  She burned Chicago to the ground, just wait to see what happens next week when she visits Nashville!  The O'Leary Factor anyone?  Don't even get me started on how she could put guests in the 'hot seat'.  All kidding aside, there is a lot to take away from Catherine's story. 

For starters, Catherine O'Leary most likely did not cause the Great Chicago Fire.  There is the Daniel 'Peg Leg' Sullivan theory, the comet theory, the Louis M. Cohn theory, and it just goes on and on from there.  Personally, that 'Peg Leg' dude sounds pretty sketchy.  Either way, the City Council of Chicago passed a resolution exonerating Mrs. O'Leary and all of her cows in 1997 and most historians agree she likely had nothing to do with the damage and almost certainly did not do anything on purpose to start the fire.  In an era of instant judgment, finger pointing and blame, let us always attempt to take a step back.  Let us always investigate one thing more before placing eternal fault on someone.  It is a valuable lesson in real life but also in sports.  

Andrew Dykstra starts tonight because Sean Johnson is injured. Many people want to blame Andrew Dykstra for the early season losses and while Sean Johnson has looked much better in goal, we haven't had much better results have we?  Is it the back line's fault then?  The lack of consistency in Carlos de los Cobos' lineups?  I think we might need some more evidence to develop in front of us before we reach a full verdict... a little time never hurt either.  For tonight, let us push all that aside and come together as one.  No one is calling this season and success and I would say it has been a disaster.  Rally together tonight, one city, one club, it's our birthday for crying out loud.

The rebuilding of Chicago from the Great Chicago Fire took place on October 10, 1871.  May we watch the rebuilding of making the Chicago Fire Great take place on October 8, 2010.