Perhaps more than any other long-suffering Cubs fan, Steve Bartman is rooting for his team to break its 108-year World Series title drought.
Maybe then, after 13 years of blaming him for prolonging the curse, Chicago will finally forgive or forget his infamous foul-ball deflection in 2003.
“Steve is cheering for the Cubs and continues to be a Cubs fan,” Frank Murtha, Bartman’s longtime friend and spokesman, told USA Today. “He just wants everybody, moving forward, to respect his privacy and let his life continue to unfold as the grand plan has it. Unimpeded by things that … have been blown out of proportion.
“I think that’s the one message. It’s not necessarily a new one.”
Much to his dismay, Bartman’s vilified celebrity has reemerged in the postseason, even more so since the Cubs defeated the Dodgers on Saturday night to clinch a spot in the World Series for the first time since 1945. Before Saturday, the closest the Cubs had come to a World Series in recent years was in the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins. The team was only five outs away from winning the pennant in Game 6 when Bartman came into play.
Sitting in a front-row seat down the left-field line, Bartman saw a fly ball coming his way in the eighth inning and instinctively reached up to catch it as outfielder Moises Alou jumped up with his outstretched glove. The ball bounced off Bartman’s hands and away from Alou, and the Cubs unraveled. Following a string of errors, the Cubs blew their lead and then lost Game 7, while the Marlins went on to win the World Series.
“Steve became the perfect cover for bad baseball and bad managing of baseball,” Murtha said.
Jason Kipnis, the Indians second baseman who grew up in Chicago rooting for the Cubs, said, “We have a joke: The only thing I’m mad at Bartman for is missing an easy fly ball.”
Kipnis thinks the Cubs should make it up to Bartman for the years of abuse he endured since that fateful game, when fans would send him death threats and police cars would sit outside his house.
“I would love to see him throw out a first pitch,” he said. “Everyone would go nuts.”
Though Murtha shot down any chance of Bartman throwing out the first pitch or even making an appearance at Wrigley Field, he did request one thing from the Chicago faithful.
“What’s his greatest wish?” Murtha said. “That this would go away and fade into the sunset.”
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