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Cubs fans walking cross-country with goat

March 08, 2012|By Leonor Vivanco, RedEye

You've heard of men who stare at goats. Well, there's a pack of men who travel with goats. OK, well just one special goat named Wrigley.

The clan, goat included, is making a cross-country road trip by foot from Mesa, Ariz., where the Cubs have spring training to Wrigley Field.

"It's going pretty good," Matt Gregory, 33, from Washington, told RedEye by phone from Arizona, where he was walking alongside a train track.

Gregory is part of a group of six guys from Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Tennessee – all Cubs fans who met in Alaska last summer working at a resort – who hope to raise money for cancer research and "crack the curse" of the billy goat so their beloved Cubbies can capture a World Series win.

"Our hope is that we show up and get invited in for the game," he said, goat and all. He said he wrote a letter to Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein but hasn't gotten a response.

Thirteen days into their trip, which started Feb. 25 on Ron Santo's birthday, they were on track Thursday to arrive in Chicago just before Memorial Day.

So far, the group has raised nearly $1,400 for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where Gregory's mom, who died in 1999, was treated. Gregory grew up a Ryne Sandberg fan and watched Cubs games on WGN as a kid.

They start hiking at 7 a.m. and go for 20 miles on the side of the interstate or dirt roads and set up tents about 14 hours later. The men have suffered from some blisters on their feet and faced powerful 50 mph winds but no rain yet.

Leading the pack is Wrigley, the four-month-old Nigerian Dwarf goat who only walks about four or five miles. Then, the 22-pound goat gets pushed in a cart the rest of the way.

"Wrigley's got a pretty easy life and a free ride to Chicago," Gregory said. He bought Wrigley on Craigslist for $60, took him to the vet before the trip and got some antibiotics as a precaution.

The scenic trek also had led them to encounter random acts of kindness from a restaurant opening early to serve them burgers to an antique store letting them sleep on the floor of the adjacent work shop, he said.

"Overall, you feel like you're doing something good for anyone affected by cancer," Gregory said.

On the road, they check the score of the Cubs spring training games and post to their Facebook pages and blog crackthecurse.com.

As a Cubs fan, he hopes for the best and expects the worst this season.

"Not everybody believes in the curse but it's kind of a wacky thing," Gregory said. "I believe it'll be broken when we get there."

It'll be worth a shot.

lvivanco@tribune.com |@lvivanco

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