10/16/2003 3:56 AM ET
Fan becomes part of Cubs lore
Cubs players emphasize fan shouldn't be blamed
The play: 56K | 300K
By Amy Sternig / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Steve Bartman was probably cheering louder than anyone in Chicago for the Cubs to take Game 7 of the NLCS with the Florida Marlins.
But after the Cubs fell in Wednesday's decisive game, 9-6, Bartman's name will probably become tied forever to the history of the team and its lack of success in reaching the World Series for the 58th straight year.
Most everyone had softened their attitude toward Bartman, now forever known as "The Fan" in Cubs lore, by Wednesday, however. Many said they realize how easy it could be to get caught up in the moment and not pay attention to where the ball is.
Jason Sucia, a Chicago resident, said he thought it was Gonzalez's misplay on the subsequent at-bat and not the aborted catch, which caused the Cubs to lose momentum.
"I think Gonzo's boot at short was more important than anything else," Sucia said. "He was not the only guilty party. As a Cubs fan, I would like to think I would not have done the same. He shouldn't fear for his life for the rest of his life though."
Bartman issued an apology in the form of a written statement Wednesday.
"I am so truly sorry from the bottom of this Cubs fan's broken heart," he said. "I ask that Cub fans everywhere redirect the negative energy that has been vented towards my family, my friends, and myself into the usual positive support for our beloved team on their way to being National League champs."
Some Cubs fans say no apology is necessary. Bartman was not responsible for the outcome of the game.
"Fans should not be blaming that guy," said Tom Dillavou of Chicago. "He was a scapegoat. It was Gonzalez that made the error and caused the run. The fan reaching out started the snowball rolling down the hill."
For his part, Gonzalez took blame for the error Tuesday night, and said Wednesday he felt bad Bartman was taking heat for the incident. Gonzalez said it may take some time for everyone to get over it -- especially Bartman.
"He's going to remember that for a long time," Gonzalez said. "I don't look at it like he lost the game for us. Who knows what would have happened after that? The game wouldn't have been over on that play anyway. There's nothing you can do to change it."
Outfielder Doug Glanville said he hopes the public can put this behind them and move on
"It's just one play," Glanville said. "It seems unfortunate, but we can't get caught up in should ofs, and would ofs and might haves. It'd be nice to see what would have happened. But we had opportunities to win that game in other situations.
"He's a Cubs fan so I don't think he intentionally tried to destroy the Cubs' opportunity. Hopefully the guy is not crucified for life. It's unfortunate, but sometimes things hang over your head."
While Bartman's privacy and anonymity is now a thing of the past with his picture in newspapers and highlight reels across the country, not to mention the publication of his home address and place of employment by some Chicago media outlets, many fans think it will eventually blow over.
It will take awhile, however.
"I feel sorry for the guy, but you just have to know where you're at," said Chicago native Brian Wengel as he sat staring at Wrigley Field as it emptied out after Game 7. "I blamed him last night in anger, but now since I have calmed down, no. People will remember it -- until the Cubs go to the World Series next year."
Laura Dorfman, a Chicago resident who left the park after drying some tears on Wednesday, said she did not blame Bartman or any of the players or any curses or anything else for the loss. She threw up her hands and said, "That's baseball -- sometimes things just don't go your way."
Amy Sternig is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.