If you’re a Cubs fan you probably remember it all too well. Your team, just five outs away from its first World Series appearance in 58 years, and a looping pop-foul to left field.
“That’s awfully close to fan interference right there. If Alou has to reach into the stands it’s fair game for the fans to catch the ball.” (Via ESPN / "Catching Hell")
That was Steve Bartman, a man who now lives in infamy amongst Cubs fans, accidentally knocking the ball away from then Cubs left-fielder Moises Alou. (Via Sports Illustrated)
Alou was attempting to make the catch in game six of the 2003 National League Championship Series — a game their opponents, the Florida Marlins, would rally to win — before winning game seven, and eventually the World Series. (Via Sporting News)
Following the play Bartman was a pariah amongst Cubs fans — pelted with beer, booed by fans, and blamed for the loss. He was even taken by security for the rest of the game, before being snuck out of Wrigley in disguise. (Via YouTube / Ramiro Munoz)
That before receiving hate mail and death threats from angry Cubs fans. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Cubfanwooss)
But now, exactly a decade later, the headphones and turtleneck sporting fan may as well still be in disguise — as he’s avoided any public appearance since the fateful play. (Via Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bartman, 36, has reportedly turned down offers of big paydays for interviews with the likes of Dr. Phil and the Today Show, as as well any number of pop culture appearances. (Via Complex)
But he hasn’t been able to escape the public eye so easily. He’s still been the butt of many Bartman jokes and parodies.
Like a Steve Bartman drive-thru prank. (Via YouTube / FizzyPops3434)
And a song, again pinning the blame on Bartman for the Cubs now historic postseason futility.
“Go blame it on Steve Bartman. The Cubs won’t play this fall.” (Via YouTube / The Beachwood Reporter)
So what has Bartman been up to? He’s reportedly still living in Chicago, working at a financial consulting firm, and, yes, still a Cubs fan — despite the lingering memory of the play that altered his life forever.
As far as anyone knows he’s never even returned to Wrigley since the game, despite a reported explicit invitation from former Cubs GM Jim Hendry. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Giants27)
The ball hasn’t exactly had an easy ride since the game either. It was purchased for more than $113,000 before being publicly blown up at late-Cubs announcer Harry Caray’s Restaurant in 2004. It was then reportedly served in spaghetti. (Via Chicago Sun-Times)
Keith Olbermann: “We take you now to Harry Caray’s restaurant.” (Via MSNBC)
Despite the cultural phenomenon the play became though, many Cubs fans and players hold no ill will towards Bartman.
Mark Prior, the pitcher who was on the mound at the time, told the San Diego Union-Tribune he blames himself, adding: “Even after all that, we still had a chance to get them in that game. And we still had Game 7.”
And pointing to increased ticket sales in the following season, and division wins in 2007 and 2008, ESPN Chicago writer Jon Greenberg notes: “While some present the ending of the 2003 season as proof that the Cubs are baseball's oldest living punchline, it clearly shook up the franchise for the better.”
Still the issue of how to bring the exiled fan back into the fold remains. Some have proposed letting him throw out a first pitch, or letting him induct a Cubs player into the Hall of Fame.
But longtime Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes thinks it might actually take some work from the Cubs on the field to make things right. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Garret Craig)
Quoted by The New York Times, he said: “I think welcoming Steve would be more appropriate after we win. You almost have to wait until you enjoy the pinnacle and then it’s like, let’s forgive this poor guy.”
By pinnacle we’re assuming he means a World Series win — and if so, it may be a while. The Cubs have gone 105 years without a championship and this year finished 31 games back in the National League Central.
- See more at Newsy.com