Wednesday, October 27, 2004 Updated: October 29, 12:57 PM ET
Marketing 'The Curse' far from over
By Darren Rovell ESPN.com
On the very day the Boston Red Sox acquired Keith Foulke, Bruce Fine called a lawyer and told him he needed help trademarking a phrase.
With the arrival of the Sox closer, and Curt Schilling two weeks before, the displaced New Englander turned West Coast comedian was confident that 2004 would be the year the Red Sox would beat the Yankees, win the World Series and lift the famed "Curse of the Bambino."
Now that "The Curse" is over, this popular flavor in New England needs a new name.
He was right. But, over the past few years, a cottage industry has emerged thanks to the curse, which is linked to then-Red Sox owner Harry Frazee selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919. And while the Red Sox winning the World Series title on Wednesday night means that "Reverse the Curse" paraphernalia and memorabilia will go on the discount rack, new phrases are, not surprisingly, popping up everywhere.
Among them? "From Cursed to First," the Bruce Fine special that can be found on hats, t-shirts and bumper stickers he started selling earlier in the season.
"Everyone asked me, 'Don't you want them to continue to lose so that people can continue to dream and buy your stuff?'" said Fine, a third-generation Red Sox fan. "And I said, 'No way. I want to be a one-hit wonder.'"
Fine recently stuck a deal with Majestic Athletic, who he says will use the phrase on officially-licensed World Series champions gear.
While Fine's vision of a championship came true on Wednesday night, with Foulke appropriately finishing off the St. Louis Cardinals, perhaps more appropriately in this cash-in quickly business environment, a New Hampshire man trademarked "Cursed to First" (without "From") five days after Fine dreamed up his phrase.
Massachusetts-based Brigham's Ice Cream has been selling a "Reverse The Curse" flavor since May. Now that the curse is over, the company's CEO and president Chuck Green has vowed to change the name, which features the company's hot fudge, caramel-covered "bases" and chocolate-covered peanut "balls."
"From the beginning, we were prepared to rename this," said Green, who noted that his father was ironically a Yankees batboy in the 1920's and often handed bats to the subject of the Red Sox alleged curse, Babe Ruth. He announced on Thursday that fans can vote for the new name on the company's Web site. The four choices are: Cursed Reversed, Believe It, Sox Rock and Fenway Faithfuls.
In June, the ice cream was endorsed on local television by Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar, and the flavor was on its way to becoming the company's most successful product launch in its 90-year history. Over the last two weeks, more than 40,000 quarts of "Reverse the Curse" were rushed out of Brigham's factories.
Rick Ho, meanwhile, expects to sell about 100 Red Sox themed shirts on eBay. One of the most popular shirts the 27-year-old is selling is his shirt that says "The Curse, 1918-2004."
"A new industry will come with things like, 'The Curse is Dead,' and 'R.I.P. The Curse,'" said Ho. "And I think 'Reverse The Curse' will now move onto the Chicago Cubs."
Ah yes, the Cubs. Wrigley's lovable losers haven't won a World Series since 1908, already MLB's longest drought, even before Boston's breakthrough in St. Louis.
According to legend, Chicago's curse began in 1945, when William "Billy Goat" Sianis' goat was refused admission to Game 4 of the World Series. Sianis is said to have placed a curse on the Cubs, who lost the '45 World Series to the Detroit Tigers and have not won a National League title ever since.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.