(CBS) — Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, who hails from the Chicago northern suburbs, grew up as a neighbor of Steve Bartman and defended the much-maligned Cubs fan Monday.

“There’s no blame on him. There never should have been,” Kipnis told reporters who descended on Cleveland for Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday that pits the Indians against the Chicago Cubs.

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Bartman, of course, is the fan some blamed for scuttling the Cubs’ chances in the 2003 NLCS. In Game 6, from his first-row seat down the left-field line, he interfered with a foul ball that outfielder Moises Alou was trying to catch. The Marlins rallied to win the game and series.

“There were numerous cops throughout the nights by his house making sure no one was going to bother them,” Kipnis recalls. “He didn’t deserve that.”

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Even though he’s from the Chicago area, Kipnis says he has “zero conflict” in trying to take the Cubs down.

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“There’s not one part of me that doesn’t wish this curse keeps going,” Kipnis says, referring to the Cubs’ championship drought that dates back to 1908.