Winning helps Chicago Cubs fans forgive Bartman 12 years later

Tue Oct 13, 2015 3:56pm EDT
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By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - It turns out winning does cure everything, even the decade-plus grudge that Chicago Cubs fans have held against "Bartman."

Steve Bartman, the Cubs fan scapegoated for a missed catch in a 2003 playoff game, is staying quiet during this year's playoff series against the St. Louis Cardinals. He has said little since feeling the wrath of fans who blamed his interference with a foul ball late in the game for sparking a Cubs collapse that ended with the Florida Marlins reaching the promised land - instead of the Cubs.

But the surprising performance this year from a young team has Chicago fans hoping the Cubs can make their first World Series appearance since 1945. The last time the "lovable losers" won it all was in 1908.

This year's winning streak, and confidence about the next few years, has Cub-crazy fans saying it is time to put the Bartman incident in the past, along with the team's long-losing record.

"People blame him because it's an easy narrative," said Al Yellon, author of the blog "Bleed Cubbie Blue." "People don't look into the actual facts of the game ... It's time to move on."

Cubs fans have found this tough, since the 2003 game was so traumatic. With nearly 40,000 fans cheering them on at home in Wrigley Field, the Cubs needed just five outs to protect a 3-0 lead and close out the Marlins.

Bartman reached out to catch a foul ball, probably causing Cubs left fielder Moises Alou to miss it.

Bartman received death threats, and the incident joined a 1945 curse by a Chicago tavern owner as a way of explaining the Cubs' long drought.   Continued...

Steve Bartman, the Cubs fan scapegoated for a missed catch in a 2003 playoff game, sits in the stands in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series in Chicago, October 14, 2003. REUTERS/Allen Fredrickson