You probably know the scene. On a cold night on October 14, 2003, Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo stepped to the plate. Second year ace Mark Prior was on the hill for the Cubs in the top of the 8th inning. The Cubs led the Marlins 3-0 and were up 3-2 in the series that would determine which team would represent the National League in the World Series.
Castillo hit a foul ball down the left field line. Several fans reached for the ball and one made more contact with it than the others.
The rest is history.
Exactly ten years later, not a word has been heard from Steve Bartman. The man with the turtleneck and headphones has vanished. Like most mysterious disappearance cases, there have been rumors of him being seen in public, but not much confirmed.
He has likely joined the Witness Protection Program and has ventured into anonymity. After initial disgust, many Cubs fans now want to hear from him. Many sportswriters have campaigned for him to return to Wrigley Field, even to do something as simple as throwing out the first pitch.
Perhaps the most shocking thing is he has never asked for forgiveness. Maybe he doesn’t want it. Maybe he doesn’t feel he will get it. The general consensus from Cubs fans is that he will receive full forgiveness if his return ever comes.
However, Bartman has rejected big money in the past to show his face, so there is no conclusion on whether or not he will ever make his way back to the Friendly Confines.
A vast majority of the people who watched the game have come to the realization some time within the past decade that Steve Bartman should not take the blame that the Cubs didn’t make the World Series. Alex Gonzalez booted a double play ball, Mark Prior and the bullpen gave up eight runs in the inning and Kerry Wood couldn’t hold onto a Game 7 lead.
All of these are much bigger reasons to the team’s demise than Bartman interfering with one foul ball.
So my proclamation to Steve Bartman is to return to Wrigley Field. I never blamed him. I want to believe that he will return to cheers rather than boos. I feel like the undeserved Bartman hate has served its time. His return would be a great thing for sports and one of the biggest news stories of any year. It will be great for Bartman to get the respect that he deserves from Cubs fans so he can live in peace. Through everything he has been through in the past decade, the reception he would receive at Wrigley would trump all the bad he has experienced.
While still considered a long shot, the potential of a Steve Bartman return to Wrigley Field would give him the deserved redemption many Cubs fans have waited for him to do.