Playoffs return to Wrigley Field, no sign of Steve Bartman

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2 Point Lead: Bartman Speaks


CHICAGO (AP) -- Steve Bartman is the most infamous Chicago Cubs fan the city has ever known, blamed by many for destroying dreams the same way Mrs. O'Leary's cow is blamed for destroying the city more than a century earlier.

Twelve years after that October night when Bartman deflected a foul ball that appeared destined to land in left fielder Moises Alou's glove and help land the Cubs in the World Series for the first time since 1945, 78-year-old fan Phil Grinstead feels only sadness for perhaps the most vilified fan in baseball history.

"I think he made a big mistake by going for that ball," said Grinstead, who was sitting maybe 20 feet away from Bartman that night and was back in the park on Tuesday night for Game 3 of the NL Championship Series against the New York Mets. "But it wasn't big enough to bring the wrath of the world on him."

SEE MORE: What Steve Bartman would want to say to us

Bartman was hustled out of Wrigley Field that night and as far as anyone knows he has never been back. He avoided the spotlight ever since.

Many feel he should be escorted back as a guest of honor.

"It would be great to have Steve Bartman come back to throw out the first pitch," said Wayne Broadfield, a lifelong Cubs fan who now lives in Washington, D.C. "There is such a great feeling and moment right with this team now that I think everybody would embrace that."

There has been talk over the years that the same man who issued an "apology from this Cub fan's broken heart" after the game is owed an apology himself. Some started a GoFundMe page to buy Bartman a ticket to a game, airfare and some spending money if he would just return to Wrigley for a game. To the surprise of no one familiar with the anger in and around Chicago after that game, he has declined the offer and many like it.

"Right after it happened, it could have easily made hundreds of thousands or more than a million dollars,' said Frank Murtha, a longtime family friend who has been acting as a spokesman for Bartman and saying no to the hundreds, if not thousands, of requests for interviews. Bartman was not interested in anything - from a "six figure" offer from a tax company to do a commercial to a playwright's proposal to tell his story on Broadway to an offer to sit behind home plate during a World Series game at Yankee Stadium.

"He has just gone about his life," Murtha said.

The Cubs have made it clear, Murtha said, that Bartman would be welcome to return to Wrigley any time he likes. But the team has not invited him to the park for the playoffs, the team confirmed. All of which is OK with Murtha.

"When this thing gets into the limelight again and things are written or said about him there will be calls that come in for him that are threatening," he said.

At Wrigley Field before the Mets beat the Cubs to take a 3-0 lead in the NLCS, there was a buzz around the so-called scene of the crime.

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It is a simple seat down the left field line, aisle 4, row 8. Seat 113, unadorned but freighted with history nonetheless. The seat where Bartman sat that October day is hallowed ground for some. One after another, they came to sit in it, have their picture taken in it or just look at it. Tyler Weber, a 23-year old nursing student from Morton, Illinois, was among them. He praised Bartman's refusal of all those offers.

"Not taking all that money, that says a lot about him," he said.

Jean McClung, a 79-year-old Cubs fan whose seat was directly behind the Bartman seat, said she's been told by ushers that there is always a stream of interested fans coming and going.

"I think we all ought to just forget it," she said.

The man who had a ticket for the seat for Game 3 didn't want to give his name, saying only of Bartman: "He didn't lose the game and he didn't lose the next game (Game 7), either."

"To blame that game on one ball and one fan is ridiculous," said Ellen Schilling, a 71-year-old fan sitting nearby who grew up in the suburbs and now lives in St. John, Indiana. "It is a shame he didn't come back and it is a sad commentary that he probably wouldn't be safe if he came back. And for what? For doing something any normal fan would have done."

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Playoffs return to Wrigley Field, no sign of Steve Bartman
Chicago Cubs left fielder Moises Alou reaches into the stands unsuccessfully for a foul ball tipped by fan Steve Bartman against the Florida Marlins in the eighth inning during Game 6 of the National League championship series in an Oct. 14, 2003, file photo at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Marlins won the series and went on to beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)
In this Oct. 14, 2003 file photo, Chicago Cubs left fielder Moises Alou falls back after unsuccessfully reaching into the stands for a foul ball against the Florida Marlins in the eighth inning during Game 6 of the National League championship series at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The ball was caught by spectator, Steve Bartman, shown with his arms out wearing headphones and a Cubs hat. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)
In this Oct. 14, 2003 file photo, Chicago Cubs left fielder Moises Alou's arm is seen reaching into the stands, at right, unsuccessfully for a foul ball along with a fan identified as Steve Bartman, left, wearing headphones, glasses and Cubs hat, during the eighth inning against the Florida Marlins in Game 6 of the National League Championship Seriesin Chicago. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)
The infamous cursed Chicago Cubs foul baseball from the 2003 National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins on display in it's last intact resting place at Harry Caray's Restaurant before being destroyed on February 26, 2004 in Chicago, Illinois. The alleged curse comes from a play during the NLCS where Luis Castillo of the Marlins hit a foul ball that Cubs fan Steve Bartman touched. This prevented Cubs' leftfielder Moises Alou from catching the ball which would have been the 2nd out of the 8th inning, instead the Marlins started a rally and went on to win the game, which forced a game 7 that the Marlins also won, on their way to becoming World Series Champs. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Actor/Director Harold Ramis emcees an auction to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation before the ceremony to destroy the cursed Chicago Cubs baseball on February 26, 2004 at Harry Caray's Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois. The alleged curse comes from a play during the NLCS where Luis Castillo of the Marlins hit a foul ball that Cubs fan Steve Bartman touched. This prevented Cubs' leftfielder Moises Alou from catching the ball which would have been the 2nd out of the 8th inning, instead the Marlins started a rally and went on to win the game, which forced a game 7 that the Marlins also won, on their way to becoming World Series Champs. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
A baseball sits inside a case moments before being blown up Thursday, February 26, 2004 in Chicago. The baseball was deflected by a fan during the Chicago Cubs' loss in Game 6 of the 2003 National League championship series against the Florida Marlins and blown up to help Cubs fans forget about the loss. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Oscar-winning special effects technician Michael Lantieri gets a look at his work after successfully blowing up a baseball for Cubs fans Thursday, February 26, 2004, in Chicago. The baseball was deflected by a fan during the Chicago Cubs' loss in Game 6 of the 2003 National League championship series against the Florida Marlins and blown up to help Cubs fans forget about the incident. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
CHICAGO - FEBURARY 26: Smoke, chards and thread at the bottom of a bullet proof container are all that is left of the cursed Chicago Cubs baseball after it was destroyed on February 26, 2004 at Harry Caray's Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois. The alleged curse comes from a play during the NLCS where Luis Castillo of the Marlins hit a foul ball that Cubs fan Steve Bartman touched. This prevented Cubs' leftfielder Moises Alou from catching the ball which would have been the 2nd out of the 8th inning, instead the Marlins started a rally and went on to win the game, which forced a game 7 that the Marlins also won, on their way to becoming World Series Champs. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Cubs fans show their support as the Florida Marlins take on the Chicago Cubs in game four of the National League Championship Series on October 11, 2003 at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Cubs defeated the Marlins 8-3 to take a 3-1 series lead. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Starting pitcher Mark Prior #22 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Florida Marlins during game two of the National League Championship Series October 8, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Nate Bump #40 of the Florida Marlins throws against the Chicago Cubs in the third inning of game two of the National League Championship Series on October 8, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Marlins 12-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Shortstop Mark Grudzielanek #11 of the Chicago Cubs gets knocked over by Miguel Cabrera #20 of the Florida Marlins in game five of the National League Championship Series on October 12, 2003 at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Marlins defeated the Cubs 4-0 and the Cubs lead the series 3-2. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Alex Gonzalez of the Florida Marlins makes a play from his knees during the Marlins 8-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs in game 6 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Sporting News via Getty Images)
Todd Hollandsworth of the Florida Marlins slides home safely ahead of the tag by the Cubs Paul Bako during the Marlins 8-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs in game 6 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Sporting News via Getty Images)
Ivan Rodriguez #7 of the Florida Marlins celebrates after scoring in the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series October 14, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Starting pitcher Kerry Wood #34 of the Chicago Cubs confers with teammates Damian Miller #27 and Alex Gonzalez #8 in the fifth inning against the Florida Marlins during game seven of the National League Championship Series October 15, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
A Chicago Cubs fan trys to maintain hope as he watches through a window across the street from Wrigley Field as the Cubs play the Florida Marlins during game seven of the National League Championship Series October 15, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A preacher fan of the Chicago Cubs says a prayer during the Cubs 9-6 loss to the Florida Marlins in game 7 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Sporting News via Getty Images)
Closer Ugueth Urbina #74 of the Florida Marlins celbrates with catcher Ivan Rodriguez #7 after the final out against the Chicago Cubs during game seven of the National League Championship Series October 15, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The marlins defeated the Cubs 9-6 to advance to the World Series. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Florida Marlins celebrate their 9-6 win over the Chicago Cubs during game seven of the National League Championship Series October 15, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Members of the Florida Marlins celebrate their 9-6 win over the Chicago Cubs during game seven of the National League Championship Series October 15, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Aramis Ramirez of the Chicago Cubs during the Cubs 9-6 loss to the Florida Marlins in game 7 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Sporting News via Getty Images)
A fan waits for the final outs between the Florida Marlins and the Chicago Cubs during game seven of the National League Championship Series October 15, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The marlins defeated the Cubs 9-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs during the Cubs 9-6 loss to the Florida Marlins in game 7 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Sporting News via Getty Images)
CHICAGO - OCTOBER 15: A somber Ted Zegarski hangs out with others Chicago Cubs fans in front of Wrigley Field near the end of the game as the Chicago Cubs were defeated 9-6 by the Florida Marlins in game 7 of the National League Championship Series October 15, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Juan Encarnacion #43 pours champagne on Luis Castillo #1 of the Florida Marlins in the locker room after their 9-6 win over the Chicago Cubs during game seven of the National League Championship Series October 15, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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