This Day In Sports: Bartman didn’t mean it, but…

October 14, 2003: It wasn’t a record-setting inning per se, but it was historic in baseball lore. The Chicago Cubs, leading 3-0 and cruising toward their first World Series appearance in 58 years, were five outs away in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins. Then Wrigley Field fan Steve Bartman knocked a foul ball that would have been out No. 2 away from the glove of Cubs leftfielder Moises Alou. While TV cameras constantly cut away to Bartman in the stands, the Cubs were committing a big error at shortstop, and the dam burst. The Marlins scored eight runs in the inning to stun the Cubs 8-3.

When it was over, fans showered Bartman with beer and water and garbage and such, and it took a police escort to get him out of Wrigley. The Cubbies couldn’t recover in Game 7, and Florida went on to the World Series. Legions of Chicago North Side followers thought they’d never get over it. The abuse of Bartman continued online despite his heartfelt apology. “There are few words to describe how awful I feel and what I have experienced within these last 24 hours,” he said the next day.

For the next 13 years, Bartman understandably kept a low profile. The Cubs didn’t make the playoffs again until 2007. Finally in 2016, the Cubs ended the Curse of the Billy Goat and won their first World Series in 108 years by beating Cleveland in a seven-game thriller. After the championship, the Cubs organization went for closure and said the long-suffering Bartman would receive a World Series ring.

“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,” said Cubs owner Tom Ricketts in a statement. “After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift today.” Bartman then issued a statement of his own, saying that he doesn’t deserve the honor but was “happy to be reunited with the Cubs family.” He then returned to his low-key life and has refused all interview requests since.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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