An open letter to Steve Bartman

Dear Steve,

I don’t know you. You don’t know me. Our paths will never cross, and you’re probably ok with that. We’re probably very similar people. I’m a quiet, nerdy engineer. You’re a quiet, nerdy financial services consultant. We both really like baseball. I’ve seen you on TV a few times, and you’re probably not ok with that. At this point, nearly 12 years after you made your place in baseball history, many people (outside of the Windy City, of course) have forgotten you existed or ever possibly impacted a Major League playoff game.

By now, you’ve seen the GoFundMe campaign to raise money to give you an all expenses paid trip to the Chicago Cubs playoff game in Pittsburgh. It’s up to over $3,600 now, but I understand why you won’t be taking the money or making the trip to see your beloved Cubbies play the Pirates. You don’t want to become a sideshow or a distraction. I get that.

Here’s the thing, though. Just look at the outpouring of love and support from good people all around the country. Over 300 people have pledged their money to help give you a redemptive moment. This may not be the perfect moment, but it means something. Most people have moved on from that fateful Game 6. We all know Alex Gonzalez is the real goat, not you.

For the past decade-plus, you have not set foot in Wrigley Field, a place you love. You love baseball so much that you wore a pair of headphones to the ballpark to consume even more baseball as the game played out in front of you. For better or worse, you are intrinsically woven into the history of the Chicago Cubs storied franchise. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty cool. I’m not a part of baseball history. Sure, it was for all the wrong reasons, but still.

I understand why you’ve turned down all of the media requests and opportunities over the past 12 years. I would have too. Who wants to see themselves turned into a tragic figure, or worse, a national laughingstock? I certainly would not wish that upon anyone, least of all an unassuming, quiet, private man like yourself.

What I would also not wish upon anyone is the years of missed moments watching a team they love play baseball. Wrigley Field may hold some painful memories for you, but those memories can be healed by watching the crop of future All-Stars on the field play ball. Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber, and Jake Arrieta are all really, really good at baseball. I’m sure you know that by now. Why not venture out and see it in person? I think Cubs fans are a bit more forgiving than you might expect.

Baseball is fun, Steve. What happened to you in Chicago was not fun. For whatever reason, fate pushed that foul ball your way. Had the wind been blowing at a slightly different angle or speed, that ball could have landed five rows over your head. None of us would know your name. Unfortunately, the fates had something different planned that night. Your life was changed forever on October 14, 2003, but it doesn’t have to stay changed forever. In wanting to move on and forget about what happened that night, you’ve forced yourself to give up a big part of your life. It’s time for that to end. Life is made up of millions of snap decisions and hasty judgements that create our path in the world. The one moment in time that you are known for does not have to define you and govern the rest of your life.

So, Steve, buy a ticket, see the Cubs in person, and get back to being the person you were before one foul ball and an angry outfielder turned you into a pariah.


Joshua Sadlock

One Response

  1. drshaz

    Great article Josh and very nice tribute. You are wrong though about one thing…. I am a Seattle M’s fan and watched that game and will NEVER forget the awful things Steve had to go through. In fact when the media leaked his workplace (stupid!) I called that place and though it was less than hours from the play his extension was already gone and I ended up leaving a very supportive VM with one of his office mates. My heart broke for the guy. Cub fans are indeed amazing. I am always in awe when an inter-league game at Safeco field in Seattle and there are a shit-load of Cubby fans in uniform … not just T-shirts, no they are sporting the $100 Authentic Baby Blue jerseys. I can say that incident, I do not think that would ever happen in the NW. Perhaps it is because we don’t have a team that is over a century old eager to make it to the big show. Who knows, but after watching the Cubs kick but on the Pirates tonight, I immediately posted, “Congrats Chicago Cub fans … but please no awful Steve Bartman episodes as we move into Division play. That was one of the worst displays of fan-hate in baseball History. Especially given most all fans would have done the same thing.” Though I recently went to a Cubs game and felt very comfortable hanging with Cubby fans, I am not sure all Cub fans have “forgiven him.” And what I don’t get is that what are you all forgiving him for … he didn’t do anything wrong!? The fans need to forgive themselves for such behavior and move on … this isn’t about Steve so much as it is about showing love and support for one of your own and let go of the blame … I hope the Cubs have an amazing series and can make their town proud and just spin the Steve Bartman story (who probably had to change his name) as a reflection of their own displaced anger. Best of luck Chicago! Make it right this time regardless what happens.


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