CHICAGO — The world met Cubs fan Steve Bartman 13 years ago on October 14, 2003. The Cubs were beating the Florida Marlins in game six of the NLCS with a 3-0 lead in the game, and were up in the series 3-2, when Bartman reached out to snatch a foul ball and interrupted a potential catch by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou.
If the ball had been caught by Alou the Cubs would have been four outs away from heading to the World Series for the first time since 1945. Of course, we all know it was caught by someone else. Bartman had to be escorted out of the ballpark by security and was under police protection thereafter, becoming the focus of fan ridicule for years.
As baseball is a game chocked full of comparisons, numbers and superstitions, as the Cubs took a 3-2 lead Thursday night in the NLCS, social media lit up with references to that fateful night 13 years ago.
Among the tweets:
“Those handcuffs just got a little tighter on Steve Bartman”
And among them, requests for Bartman to throw out the first pitch Saturday and other posts clearly NOT from Cubs fans:
“The last time the Cubs played in a NLCS Game 6, Steve Bartman became my hero”
“Mr. Bartman we need you, your head phones, and those magic hands at the next Cubs game. Sincerely, White Sox fans.”
Also earlier this week, Hornets center and diehard Sox fan Frank Kaminsky was seen walking around the United Center in a Bartman Cubs jersey.
Most social media ignored the Bartman comparison, with thousands of fans cheering on the team heading into tomorrow’s game six.
And since we’re talking numbers and history, a little food for thought:
In 2003, when the Bartman incident stole headlines, the only current Cubbies even playing major league baseball were John Lackey, Jon Lester, and “Grandpa Rossy.
In comparison, Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Willson Contreras, and Kris Bryant weren’t even pre-tweens yet.
And let’s not forget, on that fateful night 13 years ago the Cubs also gave up eight runs after the “Bartman Incident.”
Bartman himself went into hiding, denying repeated requests for media interviews, and turning down seemingly every financial offer tied to the game which came his way.