Steve Bartman was just a regular Chicago Cubs fan. One foul ball changed all of that. Bartman, as most Major League Baseball fans recall, was the guy who attempted to catch a foul ball during the Cubs’ 2003 NLCS game against the Florida Marlins. Bartman extended his arms, tipping the ball and possibly preventing Cubs left fielder Moises Alou from making the catch. After that, it was chaos.
The Steve Bartman incident
The Chicago Cubs led the Florida Marlins 3-2 in the best-of-seven-series and were ahead in Game 6 3-0 in with one out in the eighth inning and a red-hot Mark Prior on the mound. In short, the host Cubs were five outs from reaching the World Series for the first time in 58 years.
Luis Castillo hit a foul ball down the left-field line. A fan we’ve all come to now know as Steve Bartman stood up and tried to catch the ball with his bare hands. The ball deflected off Bartman’s hands and prevented Cubs left fielder Moises Alou from possibly making the catch for the second out. Alou was livid at Bartman, the Cubs unsuccessfully asked the umpire to call for fan interference, and the Marlins went on to score eight straight runs in the inning and went on to win 8-3.
The next night, again at Wrigley Field, the Marlins rallied from a 5-3 deficit against Kerry Wood. Florida went on to defeat the Cubs 9-6 in the seventh and deciding game. The Marlins advanced to the World Series where they defeated the New York Yankees 4-2.
When the Florida Marlins were making their comeback after the Steve Bartman incident, many Cubs fans were pointing at Bartman and shouting expletives at him. Bartman had to be escorted away by security as fans screamed at him while others threw beer and other objects at him. After the game, Bartman even issued a statement on the play.
“I had my eyes glued on the approaching ball the entire time and was so caught up in the moment that I did not even see Moises Alou, much less that he may have had a play. Had I thought for one second that the ball was playable or had I seen Alou approaching, I would have done whatever I could to get out of the way and give Alou a chance to make the catch.”
Bartman went on to apologize personally to Alou, Cubs fans, and others. He said his heart was broken.
Bartman was threatened. He was chastised. All because of a foul ball. Things got so bad for him that he went into hiding. Two nights after the incident, Bartman was too afraid to return to his house, which was under the watch of police. Ten years after the incident, Bartman was still declining interviews and avoiding all media requests. He remained out of the public eye. He had never returned to Wrigley Field.
The Cubs win the World Series
In 2016, the Chicago Cubs finally ended their World Series drought by defeating the Cleveland Indians and ending the agony suffered by many Cubs fans. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, 14 years after Steve Bartman’s infamous attempt at catching a foul ball, reached out to Bartman and presented him with his own personalized World Series ring. He brought Bartman back to Wrigley, showed him around before presenting the ring.
“On behalf of the entire Chicago Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series Championship Ring to Mr. Steve Bartman,” the Cubs told WGN in a statement. “We hope this provides closure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series. While no gesture can fully lift the public burden he has endured for more than a decade, we felt it was important Steve knows he has been and continues to be fully embraced by this organization. After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift today.”
Bartman issued his own statement.
“Although I do not consider myself worthy of such an honor, I am deeply moved and sincerely grateful to receive an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring,” he said. “I am fully aware of the historical significance and appreciate the symbolism the ring represents on multiple levels. My family and I will cherish it for generations.”
He ended by saying he was happy to be back with his Cubs family. ”
“I am happy to be reunited with the Cubs family and positively moving
forward with my life,” he said.