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Wanna buy a goat head in Chicago? Simple

April 11, 2013|By Mick Swasko, @swasko | RedEye

As police search for the person who delivered to Wrigley Field a goat head addressed to Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, the rest of Chicago is left wondering where the heck one might find such an item in the first place.

Turns out, it’s not that hard.

“Simple,” said Paulina Meat Market owner Bill Begale. “We’re getting goats in next Monday and we get ’em with the head on. There’s no use for them. There’s no use for them except goofy stuff.”

A package with the head arrived Wednesday at the park and did not include a note, according to reports. Although it was never delivered to Ricketts, the incident marked an unusual development as the team and city continue highly public negotiations about proposed changes to the landmark park and surrounding property, including the possibility of installing a Jumbotron-type screen in the outfield.

The legend of the goat at Wrigley Field dates to 1945 when the late owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, William Sianis, is said to have placed a curse on the team after his goat was barred from entering the park. The Cubs lost that title, and they have not won one since.

Begale said the sight and smell of such a delivery would not be pretty.

“You got the eyes, the tongue is usually sticking out, and you can see the teeth. The snout is kind of long on a goat. It probably didn’t smell too good when he got it, sitting in a box at room temperature.”

Begale said he has no use for the goat heads he receives, so they get tossed in a bone pile to be hauled away. If someone were to come in and ask for one, he said, it would probably cost about $25, depending on how much the whole animal cost him in the first place. The rest of the goat gets used at the market, though, for items such as goat brats. Paulina Meat Market began making them when the Cubs made the playoffs in 2007, marketing the links as a way to “eat away the curse.”

The culprit of the goat-head caper remains unknown. Kalle Davos, owner of the Halsted Packing House meat shop and slaughter house, said finding a suspect could be as easy as actually buying a goat head in Chicago.

“I heard it had a USDA tag on it,” she said. “They can track this, they can figure out, I believe, exactly where it came from. Thank God it wasn’t my place. I’m inspected by the state.”

Davos, a Cubs fan, wasn’t laughing, however.

“It’s just bad publicity, you know?” she said. “It’s tasteless, I didn’t think it was funny. You can’t just do that to people, sending them stuff like that in boxes. I just think it’s outrageous.”

She hasn’t had many takers this year for the item, but it’s not uncommon for people to make soups out of the head of a goat, Davos said. At Halsted Packing House, a goat head would be sold for between $2.50 and $3.50, usually along with the rest of the carcass.

“They didn’t spend much on this prank,” she said.

Begale, who said his allegiance leans toward the Sox, is certain the now famous goat head didn’t come from his shop. But maybe some good can come of the odd tale, he said.

“Maybe there’s some brains in there for Ricketts that’s going to help them out,” he said. “I don’t know.”

mswasko@tribune.com | @swasko

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