Remember that Chicago Cubs fan who may or may not have cost his team a crucial out in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship series against the Marlins?
No? Well, let’s take a jaunt down memory lane:
The infamous Steve Bartman incident, a muffed catch followed by outfielder Moises Alou’s tantrum, was painted as a turning point in the Cubs’ pennant chase. Chicago went on to lose Game 6 and then lost Game 7, falling short of making the World Series and relegating Bartman to the deepest circle of sports fandom hell.
To put it mildly, Cubs fans were not kind. Bartman had to be escorted from the stadium after Game 6, as debris rained down upon him. He received death threats. TV cameras and trucks swarmed in front of his home. Even four years later, KFC — in an attempt to make light of the situation or perhaps to make money — mailed a letter to Bartman’s home offering him free food if he stayed away from playoff games.
Since the incident, Bartman has basically disappeared. Despite requests for interviews, appearances, deals and promotions, Bartman has stayed completely out of public life. There have been newspaper profiles, fake social media accounts and even an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary called “Catching Hell,” which defends his actions. Bartman has steered well clear of it all, communicating only occasionally through a spokesman.
In fact, the last time Bartman had a public presence was the day after that fateful game, when his brother-in-law issued an apologetic statement on his behalf.
Now, 12 years later, with the Cubs teetering on the edge of the playoffs, some Cubs fans want to “make amends.” A GoFundMe account has been set up to raise $5,000 to pay for Bartman’s tickets and expenses to attend the National League Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates next week.
The description on the page says:
“Lifelong Cubs fan wants to make amends for 2003, lets make it happen. First we need to find him to get him to the big game. If anyone knows where he is at, tell him we are looking for him. The money would pay for his expenses including his ticket, hotel room, flights and a little spending money.
“If he cannot be found by time of the big game all the proceeds raised will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.”
As of Friday evening, 287 people had pitched in to raise $3,390 in three days.
The gesture, purportedly well-intentioned, was ultimately unsuccessful.
“It’s nice of these people to think of Steve, but he won’t be taking advantage of the offer,” Frank Murtha, a family friend and longtime spokesman, said to ESPN. “He’s perfectly capable of attending the game on his own, though he has no intention of being at the wild-card game.”
“Steve is glad the money will go to a good cause and will be cheering on the Cubs as always,” Murtha said.