By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Fourteen years after Cubs fan Steve Bartman infamously interfered with a foul ball down the left-field line amid Chicago’s collapse against the then-Florida Marlins in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, news broke Monday that he’d be receiving a 2016 World Series ring from the Cubs.
And four days after that, the manager of that 2003 Cubs team arrived in town. Now leading the Nationals, who are in for a three-game set beginning Friday afternoon, Dusty Baker was happy to see Bartman receive a ring.
“I thought that was a very good gesture by the Cubs,” Baker said. “I don’t know how (Bartman) took it, I have not heard. The guy’s life was made miserable for a long time. A guy can come to a ball game with his family one day, and you have no idea you are about to become the scorn of the whole nation. I just thought it was a good gesture.”
After the 2003 collapse, the Cubs never got closer to a championship with Baker in charge. His 2004 squad had a 1.5-game lead in the wild-card race in the final two weeks, but the Cubs lost seven of their final nine games to miss the postseason. The Cubs followed with a 79-win campaign in 2005 and a 66-win season in 2006, after which Baker left town.
Asked Friday if Bartman should’ve cashed in on his celebrity status instead of taking a non-existent public profile, Baker supported the approach Bartman has taken.
“No, I don’t think you try to cash in on that,” Baker said. “You have to consider the feeling he will have about this the rest of his life. Anything he got wouldn’t be worth what he went through in the past. Now it’s water under the bridge. This happened a long time ago.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.