Bartman: a dark night's tale

The Baltimore Sun

In baseball lore, the legend of Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman seems destined to be one of the game's most enduring and saddest.

It has paradox. A rabid fan of his beloved Cubs, Bartman nevertheless set in motion a chain reaction that helped steal a World Series appearance from his team in one moment of impulse.

It has the element of the unanswered question: Would Cubs outfielder Moises Alou have caught the foul ball off the bat of the Florida Marlins' Luis Castillo in the sixth game of the 2003 National League Championship Series? Even Alou failed to answer definitively, saying on one occasion he would not have made the grab but later contradicting himself by contending he would have caught the ball.

And the tale seems to have headed toward a poignant, gloomy end.

The Cubs have yet to return to the World Series since 1945. And Bartman - the target of fellow Cubs fans' ire in the days after the incident - has dodged publicity.

What brings all this up again is that Bartman was just offered a fair amount of cash to appear at a sports collectors show in Rosemont, Ill. He would have received $25,000 just to sign a photo of himself reaching for the ball.

He turned it down. In fact, I'm pretty sure Bartman would pay that much and more if what happened in that photo never occurred.

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