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Steve Bartman won’t come out of hiding despite Cubs’ success

Chicago Cubs leftfielder Moises Alou reaches into the

Chicago Cubs leftfielder Moises Alou reaches into the stands unsuccessfully for a foul ball against the Florida Marlins in the eighth inning during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2003, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The ball was deflected by spectator Steve Bartman. Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS / AMY SANCETTA

Steve Bartman still plays a prominent role in Chicago Cubs lore, a significant part — for the many die-hards who choose to believe — of a curse-ridden franchise.

If the Cubs beat the Indians in the World Series, will all be forgiven?

Bartman was seated in foul territory down the leftfield line at Wrigley Field when — with the Cubs leading the Marlins 3-0, a man on second and one out in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS — he infamously deflected a foul ball by Luis Castillo that perhaps was destined to be caught by Cubs leftfielder Moises Alou. Castillo walked and the Marlins wound up scoring eight runs in the inning. Bartman never lived that down as the Marlins came back from a 5-3 deficit to win Game 7 and earn a trip to the World Series, where they beat the Yankees in six games.

Could Bartman resurface if the Cubs prevail?

“I don’t think so,’’ Frank Murtha, Bartman’s spokesman, said Monday. “Obviously, Steven and I have talked about this many, many times. It’s never been publicly or privately conditioned on the Cubs winning the National League pennant, winning the World Series. If you ask me the trend or for the leaning based on Steve’s feeling, it would probably still remain the same.’’

Bartman, a 39-year-old bachelor, reportedly works for a financial services consulting company in a suburb north of Chicago, the same firm he was at when he reached into history on that foul pop. He didn’t go to work the next day, issued a brief statement to The Associated Press and has never spoken publicly again.

A neighbor who lived on the same block where Bartman resided with his family in Northbrook, Illinois said by phone Monday: “First of all, he’s a nice guy. Whatever people want to think, it wasn’t like he was doing anything to hurt anybody. It was an innocent, unfortunate incident.’’

Bartman’s parents still live in the same house, but Steve has moved away, said the neighbor, who asked not to be identified.

Murtha allowed that Bartman might have created more intrigue over the years with his refusal to discuss the incident. “I’ve certainly thought about that and contemplated that,’’ he said. “I don’t know precisely what the antidote is. I never thought that the interest in this and its level would remain as strong as it has for this many years.’’

Murtha said Bartman has consistently turned down lucrative offers to make personal appearances. The Cubs also have invited him, but his safety is a significant concern. “There’s a certain number of people in our society who are wrapped real tight and they’re a couple of bricks short of a full load,’’ Murtha said. “Death threats and the like show up on social media, attempts to get through to him at his workplace.’’

Murtha said he knows Bartman will feel relieved if the Cubs win.

“I think it’s logical to assume that,’’ he said. “It eliminates one part of the sentence or paragraph or equation the Cubs haven’t won because of the curse of the goat, because of Leon Durham, because of the Mets, because Bartman reached for the ball. Even winning the pennant was a step in that direction.’’

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