Storyline: I believe in The Curse of Doug Ault. But I wonder about that curse. Was Ault cursing just the Blue Jays? Or was he cursing all of us, too?
The Curse of the Bambino lasted 86 years. It started when the Boston Red Sox traded the great Babe Ruth in 1919 The Red Sox didn’t win another World Series until 2004.
The Curse of the Billy Goat was on the Chicago Cubs. Billy Sianis, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, brought his goat, ‘Murphy,’ to Game 7 of the 1945 World Series, which was played at Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. Fans complained about the noise and smell of the goat and the pair was asked to leave. Billy Sianis said, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” The Cubs didn’t win another World Series until 2016–their first since 1908.
Well, perhaps Major League Baseball has another curse, one that few know about. Chris Rising, a die-hard Blue Jay fan, asked me today: ” How long has it been since Doug Ault died?” The former Blue Jay died on December 22, 2004, I replied, a victim of ‘suicide.’
His death has significance, I believe. It’s The Curse of Doug Ault. Doug put a 50-year Curse on the Blue Jays, denying Toronto a World Championship until 2055.
Sorry, Chris. There will be no World Championship for the Blue Jays this year. (Go Tigers!)
Here’s the story of Doug Ault.
Doug hit two HRs for the expansion Blue Jays on Opening Day, April 7, 1977. It was the Toronto Blue Jays very first game. I remember seeing those home runs on the sports news.
It was a cold brisk day in Toronto, a day that was punctuated with occasional snow showers. Doug was a big, right-handed batting/left-handed throwing/power-hitting first baseman. That meant he was a bottom-hand hitter with his strong hand on the bottom of the bat as he swung. He hit some wicked-looking line drives into left-center and center field. Unfortunately for Doug, he didn’t hit enough of them to enjoy a long Major League career. He played his last Major League game on October 5th, 1980.
After that he managed in the Blue Jays farm system for a decade, from 1984 to 1994. His Syracuse team won a championship in 1985. His last gig was managing an Australian baseball team. He retired from baseball in 1994.
His retirement was helped along by an addiction to pain killers, which he used to relieve pain in his right shoulder. Doug was also depressed, a situation caused by the divorce from his wife, Julie, in 1990. The couple had two children and the family break-up dispirited Doug.
The last ten years of his life were neither happy nor financially successful. He was addicted to pain pills–OxyContin, specifically, AKA Cotton, Oxy, Ox, or Hillbilly Heroin. He then married Lynn Davidson in 2000, a woman he had met during rehab. The second marriage was rocky at best, as financial troubles escalated.
Doug suffered from severe depression, which worsened in 2004 after the death of first wife. He stopped working that year as a salesman at a car dealership in St. Petersburg, Florida.
While other curses have nothing to do with society in general, “The Curse of Doug Alt” has everything to do with the society in which we live. It’s a microcosm of problems we face: over-prescription to pain pills that cause addiction, depression, and suicide. There’s a link among the three, too. Opioids are the drug of choice for pain-killing addiction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2014 nearly 2 million Americans either abused or were dependent on prescription opioids. More than 165,000 people died from overdoses to prescription opioids from 1999 to 2014. Heroin is an opioid drug, as is OxyContin, a prescribed pain killer. The increase in heroin use during the same time frame is related to cost and access: it’s cheaper than OxyContin and easier to buy.
And there are ten times more people suffering from major depression today than there were in 1945. It’s estimated that between 35 to 45 million Americans will suffer from depression at some time during their lifetimes.
Suicide rates increased 24% during 2000 to 2014 and there were 43,000 deaths in America by suicide in 2014. Doug Ault committed suicide in 2004. Substance abuse, depression, and financial problems were factors, a common thread associated with many suicide victims today.
Today, synthetic painkillers, such as Fentanyl, are purchased without a prescription. These synthetic pain killers are highly addictive opioids. Prescription pain-killing addiction, synthetic pain-killing addiction, and heroin addiction fuel the opioid crisis we face currently.
I believe in The Curse of Doug Ault. But I wonder about that curse. Was Ault cursing just the Blue Jays? Or was he cursing all of us, too?