Steve Bartman can finally breathe easy now that the Chicago Cubs are World Series champions, and some Cubs fans are trying to get the famously unlucky fan to join the team in their victory parade.
The Cubs made history in the early morning hours on Thursday, winning Game 7 in dramatic fashion in the 10th inning to erase a 3 games to 1 deficit and end 108 years of heartache. But the victory was especially gratifying for Bartman, who shouldered the blame for the team’s dashed 2003 postseason hopes when he tried to catch a foul ball late in Game 6 of the NLCS that ended up extending the game and allowing the Florida Marlins to knock off the Cubs.
In the 13 years since that infamous moment, Steve Bartman has been a ghost in Chicago. Those close to him say Steve has remained just as big a Cubs fan as ever, but made sure to stay as far from the spotlight as possible.
With the Cubs leading the league in wins and a favorite to win the title this season, many were calling on Steve Bartman to return to a World Series game — and possibly even throw out a pitch. But through his friend and spokesman, Frank Murtha, Bartman said that wouldn’t be happening.
“Steve is cheering for the Cubs and continues to be a Cubs fan. 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 message. It’s not necessarily a new one,” Frank Murtha told USA Today.
Chicago Cubs fans are now hoping that Bartman has a change of heart. In the hours after Thursday’s thrilling 8-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians, many fans took to Twitter to call on the Cubs to invite Steve Bartman to the upcoming victory parade.
PLEASE do whatever it takes @Cubs and bring Steve Bartman to the parade...Celebrate a title, and give that man some deserved peace...Please!— Charles Davis (@CFD22) November 3, 2016
Though he was initially the subject of widespread scorn for his accidental Game 6 blunder in the 2003 NLCS, many more people have defended Steve Bartman throughout the past 13 years. Many noted that Bartman’s attempt at catching the foul ball was no different than what any other fan would do — and no different from the other fans sitting next to him, who also reached for the ball.
Even Moises Alou, the player who was trying to snag the ball, admitted years later that he didn’t think he could have caught it anyway.
Others pointed out that it was the Chicago Cubs who went on to blow the lead in the game after Bartman’s foul ball snag, and lose another lead in Game 7 of that year.
But Steve Bartman has remained silent throughout it all, even though he’s had chances to make money off the fame and even an offer to make a movie about him.
“He must be fiercely private,” Erica Swerdlow, managing director for Burson-Marsteller, a public relations firm specializing in crisis communications, told the Chicago Tribune in 2011.
“Even beyond disloyal friends or family members selling things, Kevin James wanted to do a movie about it. A lot of money may have been thrown his way. He could be on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ right now if he wanted to. Money often extends people’s 15 minutes. He stepped away. And he did it early.”
With the Cubs’ long-awaited World Series victory, many fans thought immediately of Steve Bartman and his now-unburdened soul.
Steve Bartman be like .. pic.twitter.com/1crScoFXOQ— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) November 3, 2016
now Cubs fans can finally FREE Steve Bartman! CONGRATS CUBS !! pic.twitter.com/7A5G4UtJa1— WavesOnDeck (@iXclusive_Ced) November 3, 2016
It’s not clear if the campaign to bring Steve Bartman to the Chicago Cubs World Series victory parade will gain any traction. He is clearly committed to remaining out of the spotlight and not re-living the past — but that’s not stopping fans from doing their best to bring him back.
[Featured Image by Amy Sancetta/AP Images]