Cubbies lose the Bartman curse?
By Matt Lenio
September 22, 2006 | To most people, the name Steve
Bartman means nothing. For Chicago Cubs fans, myself
included, the mere mention of his name sends shivers
down our spines and makes us want to rip our Derrek
Lee jerseys in rage.
It was a brisk October night at Chicago's legendary
Wrigley Field when Bartman, an anonymous human resources
worker, took destiny of a sports franchise into his
own hands. There were two outs in the top of the eighth
inning of the National League Championship Series, and
the Florida Marlins trailed the Cubs 3-0. As the Marlins'
Luis Castillo cracked a deep fly ball into foul territory,
Bartman, a 26-year-old Cubs fan, abolished the Cubs'
hope of winning the World Series for the first time
in nearly a century. The Cubs' left-fielder Moises Alou
ran to the brick wall, and Bartman, who was sitting
in the first row, reached over Alou's baseball glove
and deflected the ball.
Now, I cringe when I see the event replayed on ESPN.
At the time, however, I had no idea what a disastrous
chain of events would follow. Alou and the Cubs immediately
argued for an interference call, but the evidence was
ruled inconclusive. The video replay was able to prove
that Alou had a likely chance of catching the fly ball,
but league rules state that interference can only be
contested when a spectator actually reaches into the
field of play.
When the call was announced, chaos broke out at Wrigley
Field. Police were forced to escort Bartman out of the
stadium as fans hurled beer cans and popcorn at him
from their seats. His only mode of self-defense was
a feeble attempt to cover his face with his coat. Those
of us watching from home rooted for the team from our
couches and La-Z-Boy recliners, but it would prove to
be in vain. With the fans enraged and the Cubs' rhythm
broken, there was only one way the game could go from
there -- down.
Castillo was walked by Cubs' pitcher Mark Prior, and
the Marlins rallied by scoring eight runs in the inning,
forcing a seventh game. The Marlins later on would defeat
the Cubs, becoming the National League and future World
Even though Bartman apologized "from the bottom of
this Cubs fan's broken heart," it could not undo the
damage of that day. As a Chicago native and die-hard
Cubs fan, I slept horribly on the night of Oct. 14,
2003. As my stomach did somersaults, I knew inside that
the deflected fly ball was the Cubs' last chance of
making another World Series appearance for a number
of years to come.
The ball that had been deflected by Bartman turned
into a piece of Cubs' history, and was later sold at
an auction for a whopping $113,824.16 to the owners
of Harry Caray's Restaurant. They later destroyed the
ball at a large public event in Chicago, though it was
little consolation to the legions of brokenhearted Cubs
This baseball fan still holds a glimmer of hope for
his home team, however. If the Boston Red Sox can overcome
their "Curse of the Bambino," certainly the Cubs' time
will also come. In 1918, George Herman Ruth led the
Boston Red Sox to win their fifth World Series title.
Ruth, who was better known as "The Babe" or "The Bambino,"
was just a young pitcher at the time. He would later
end his career by hitting 714 homeruns before his induction
into the Hall of Fame in 1936. Harry Frazee, who was
owner of the Boston Red Sox in 1920, sold Ruth's contract
to the New York Yankees for $100,000, in order to fund
his girlfriend's theater career. The Yankees, who had
previously never won a World Series title, have since
gone on to win a Major League Baseball record of 26
Prior to 2004, the Red Sox made only four World Series
appearances over the course of the 86 seasons. Each
of those appearances was lost in game seven. That was,
of course, until October 2004. After 86 seasons of waiting,
hoping and praying, the Red Sox won the series, and
the curse was broken.
The Cubs winning another World Series is a thought
that has yet to be actualized, but every chance I get,
I still go to see my Cubbies play. I am the guy in the
stands, wearing blue and red and keeping a sharp lookout
for anyone who looks like they might accidentally intercept
a fly ball.