Steve Bartman will always be remembered as the man who snagged a foul ball and with it ripped away the Chicago Cubs best shot at a World Series title, but 10 years later he’s finally getting a bit of absolution.
The incident happened during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series. With the Cubs holding onto a lead in the eighth inning and one out, a pop fly sailed into foul territory. As outfielder Moises Alou drifted toward the stands to catch it, Bartman instead reached out and snagged enough of the ball to pull it into the crowd.
Alou looked livid, and the fans at Wrigley Field booed mercilessly. It got even worse for Bartman when the Cubs imploded, losing Game 6 and then Game 7.
For many people, Steve Bartman was a convenient scapegoat for a franchise that has been “cursed” for decades.
Bartman’s spokesman, Frank Murtha, said there are still some people who want to cash in on the Bartman legend. He said Harry Carey’s Restaurant blew up the ball and served it in spaghetti sauce.
“(Bartman) continues to work. Has this incident posed challenges to him? Yes. Has he more than overcome them? Yes. But he has been bigger than those who have commercially exploited the incident,” Murtha said.
But now, 10 years after the incident Bartman has earned a bit of absolution from Cubs fans and players.
Since the incident, Cubs players have absolved Bartman and taken blame. After all, he had nothing to do with the 8 runs the team gave up in the 8th and 9th innings, leading to an 8-3 loss.
“What made it so dramatic is this show that Moises put on like he could catch it,” said Jack McKeon, who at the time was the manager of the Florida Marlins, the Cubs opponent. “A couple years later he says there is no way he could catch that ball, after that kid took a beating.”
Joe Borowski, the Cubs closer at the time, also said it was a shame that Bartman took the blame when everyone else in the stands was doing the same thing.
“What happened was an absolute shame. It’s awful people would try to use him as a scapegoat,” Borowski said. “There were 4, 5, 6 other people with their hands in there too. It’s the double play that wasn’t turned. A two-hopper that wasn’t turned. That’s the defining moment of the game for me.”
For his part, Steve Bartman has never spoken publicly about the incident and never made a public appearance.