- Morry Gash/AP
• Steve Bartman is unlikely to appear at the World Series. • He is believed to have been to games since 2003. • He still receives threats and has turned down lucrative offers.
Thirteen years after Steve Bartman infamously reached for a foul ball from the stands in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series when the Cubs were on the brink of appearing in the World Series, many would like to see him back at Wrigley Field. Now it seems as if that will not happen.
Ray Sanchez of CNN spoke with Frank Murtha, a sports agent and family friend who has served as Bartman’s spokesman for the past 13 years. Sanchez asked Murtha whether Bartman might make an appearance at Wrigley Field during this year’s World Series, which starts Tuesday night in Cleveland, perhaps to throw out a first pitch. Murtha’s answer seemingly shut the door on the possibility.
“The likelihood that he would return to throw out a first ball or anything like that is probably slim, none, and no chance,” Murtha said. “Steve just wishes the Cubs well and has no interest in being any distraction from whatever happens to them.”
Bartman was indeed a distraction in 2003. With the Cubs holding a 3-2 series lead over the Marlins and five outs from securing a trip to the World Series, Bartman reached for a foul ball. He appeared to interfere with Cubs left fielder Moises Alou, who promptly threw a fit (but said years later he didn’t think he would’ve caught the ball anway). Fans turned on Bartman, and he had to be escorted from the park as the Cubs went on to lose both that game and Game 7 the following night.
The calls for Bartman to throw out a first pitch have grown steadily louder since the Cubs won the National League pennant, from fans, blogs, and even Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, who grew up a Cubs fan.
“He didn’t deserve all of that,” Kipnis said in a USA Today story by Bob Nightengale. “He’s a very loyal fan, who wanted a foul ball, and the way the events turned, made him into a scapegoat … If he threw out a first pitch, I think everyone would go nuts.”
While it seems as if many Cubs supporters would like to bring Bartman back to Wrigley, it is probably a terrible idea. What happens if Bartman throws out a first pitch and the Cubs lose that game? What if they lose it in some horrific fashion? Who will get blamed? Bartman.
As for Bartman, he still hasn’t spoken about the incident since issuing a short statement the day after Game 6 in 2003.
According to Sanchez, Bartman still lives in Chicago, working at a financial firm, and he remains a Cubs fan.
- Amy Sancetta/AP
In fact, while it has not been confirmed, Tom Waddle of ESPN Radio in Chicago says he has heard that Bartman has indeed been to Cubs games since the incident in 2003.
“It is my understanding that he has actually been to games,” Waddle said on ESPN Radio. “He’s just done it in a very low key, kinda secretive fashion. He remains a Cubs fan.”
Murtha also told Newsday that the Cubs had indeed invited Bartman back to Wrigley. Bartman spurned those invitations along with numerous lucrative offers to make personal appearances.
Among the offers turned down by Murtha, Sanchez said, were book proposals, “six-figure” offers to do a commercial, a six-week Florida vacation, and even a Broadway play.
While Murtha says Bartman’s goal “has been to return to a normal life,” he also conceded that there was still a safety concern and that Steve still received threats.
“There’s a certain number of people in our society who are wrapped real tight and they’re a couple of bricks short of a full load,” Murtha told Newsday. “Death threats and the like show up on social media, attempts to get through to him at his workplace.”
So it seems unlikely that Bartman will show up to Wrigley during the World Series. But maybe if the Cubs win it all, he will finally step out from the darkness and help the rest of Wrigleyville find some closure.