Steve Bartman Day could be coming to Wrigley Field next season, with Chicago Cubs fans lobbying for an event to honor the unluckiest fans of the team that had bad luck for 108 years.
In the wake of the team’s World Series victory, many Cubs fans have turned their attention to the fan who has suffered for what they see as an honest mistake that might have cost the team a chance at the 2003 World Series. Now, many are calling on the team to honor him in some way.
In a letter to the Chicago Tribune, Rick Nolan suggested that the team hold a Steve Bartman Day to invite him back to Wrigley Field.
“In the midst of the euphoria now overtaking Chicago and the rest of the state, I would suggest it is also time for an act of contrition,” he wrote. “Cubs fans (particularly the guilty ones) and the local and national media that blamed Steve Bartman for the Cubs playoff loss not-so-many years ago should push for a Steve Bartman Day at Wrigley Field as soon as possible next season.”
The idea for a Steve Bartman Day is a popular one, with fans across social media calling on the Chicago Cubs to find some way to honor him.
Bartman is a tragic character in Cubs history, taking the blame (unfairly, many believe) for extending the team’s World Series drought by an additional 13 years. But many fans have a special affinity for Bartman, believing that his misfortune is a perfect mirror for the team that went 108 years between World Series titles.
Cubs fans' ultimate atonement: Steve Bartman Day https://t.co/SUplw9PvkU— Dave Jenkins (@MzeeDaveJenkins) November 4, 2016
Within minutes of the thrilling finish to Game 7 of the World Series, many Cubs fans started calling on the team to invite Bartman to ride in the team’s victory parade.
Now, Steve Bartman is speaking out for the first time since a 2011 statement and answering those calls. Speaking through his friend Frank Murtha, a Chicago lawyer who has served as Bartman’s unofficial spokesman since the 2003 incident, Bartman said he was thrilled with the World Series title.
“He was just overjoyed that the Cubs won, as all the Cubs fans are,” Mutha told USA TODAY Sports.
But Bartman also said he wouldn’t be showing up to the Cubs victory parade.
“We don’t intend to crash the parade,” Murtha said. “The one thing that Steve and I did talk about was if the Cubs were to win, he did not want to be a distraction to the accomplishments of the players and the organization.”
now Cubs fans can finally FREE Steve Bartman! CONGRATS CUBS !! pic.twitter.com/7A5G4UtJa1— WavesOnDeck (@iXclusive_Ced) November 3, 2016
For those who may not remember the dark period in baseball history, Steve Bartman took much of the blame for the Chicago Cubs losing the 2003 NLCS, ending the run of a team many believed could end the World Series drought. Sitting along the edge of the field, Bartman reached for a foul ball in the eighth inning of Game 6, getting enough that outfielder Moises Alou was unable to catch it.
From there, the Cubs bullpen collapsed, and the then-Florida Marlins took a late lead, beating the Cubs in Game 6. The Cubs blew another lead in Game 7, and the Marlins went on to win the World Series.
Many blamed Steve Bartman for snagging the foul ball away from Alou, stealing an out that would have allowed the Cubs to end the inning and likely go on to advance to the World Series. He was booed out of the stadium that day and would receive death threats.
But many others have defended Bartman, saying the criticism is unfair and absolving him of the blame. Many noted that any fan would try to catch a foul ball coming right at them, even just to defend themselves from getting beaned as the ball came down. The fans around Bartman were doing the same thing, but Bartman was the one unlucky enough to actually come into contact with the ball.
Years later, Moises Alou would also admit that he couldn’t have caught the ball anyway.
Though Steve Bartman won’t be attending the Chicago Cubs World Series victory parade on Friday, fans aren’t giving up in trying to bring him back from the 13-year exile. The idea of a Steve Bartman Day is building up steam online, with many fans supporting the idea of welcoming him back to Wrigley Field.
[Featured Image by Amy Sancetta/AP Images]