If the billy goat curse that has dogged the Chicago Cubs since 1945 has been lifted, fans might have Jim Stavrou and Georgia Charalambous to thank. At least in part.
Stavrou and Charalambous, custodians at the Rolling Meadows third district courthouse, place credit for the turnaround where it belongs: with talented players and savvy managers.
But they say Charalambous might have provided the supernatural boost the Cubs need to counteract the mythical hex Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis placed on the team during the 1945 World Series after owner P.K. Wrigley refused to admit Sianis' pet goat Murphy to the ballpark.
Stavrou says a series of coincidences led him to Charalambous on Oct. 11, about the same time the Cubs were losing to the San Francisco Giants.
Earlier, before his late afternoon shift started, Stavrou was chatting with co-workers.
"I said, 'If the Cubs lose today, forget it,'" said the Mount Prospect man, who says he's a casual baseball fan.
At about 10 p.m., Stavrou went to collect two large garbage bins, which he takes to the basement every night. That night, a co-worker beat him to it, something Stavrou says never happens.
He thanked the man, who chided him, saying, "Jimmy, you put the jinx on the Cubs. They're losing 5 to 2."
A few minutes later, Stavrou, who was born in the U.S. to Greek parents, ran into Charalambous, a native of Cyprus, and spoke to her briefly. He told her the story of Sianis and Murphy and they began laughing.
They agreed the Cubs' misfortune was the result of "mati" -- the evil eye.
"Greeks believe in the evil eye curse," said Charalambous, who told Stavrou she knew a prayer to remove it.
"It's worked in the past," she said. "That's why I believe it."
After saying the prayer silently three times, Charalambous says her eye began to water and she began to yawn, which she took as good signs.
"Jimmy," she said, "tonight they're going to win."
They parted and went about their business. Leaving work an hour later, Stavrou turned on his radio and learned the Cubs had won 6-5.
"A shudder went through my body. I couldn't sleep that night," he said, thinking about the coincidences that placed him and Charalambous together as the ninth inning unfolded.
"It all came together," he said, adding, "If there was a curse on the Cubs, I believe it's possible it has been lifted."