“It only takes one person who’s not wrapped real tight or a couple of bricks short of a full load to pose a security threat,” said Frank Murtha, an attorney who has served as Bartman’s adviser.
Bartman has not spoken publicly or stepped back inside Wrigley Field since Oct. 14, 2003, when during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series he reached for a foul ball — no ordinary fly ball. The Cubs led the Marlins 3-0 and were five outs from reaching the World Series for the first time since 1945.
But Bartman reaching for the ball kept Cubs outfielder Moises Alou from catching it for the second out, and the Marlins ended up scoring eight runs in the inning, winning the game 8-3 and then winning Game 7 to deny the Cubs a trip to the World Series — and leave Bartman vilified.
Murtha said Bartman — who is 38, still lives in the Chicago area and works in financial services — has received dozens of threats over the years.
“Invariably when there is some publicity about it or it comes up on an anniversary date, calls come into his office or people on blogs will issue threatening-type language,” Murtha said.
The latest publicity has stemmed from a group of Cubs fans trying to raise money to pay for Bartman to attend the Cubs’ NL wild-card game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh next week. The group has raised $3,475 toward its goal of $5,000 and said the money will go Alzheimer’s Association if Bartman does not accept it, according to the group’s gofundme.com page.
But Murtha expressed concern about where the money would go and said Bartman has redirected donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation in the name of Ron Santo, the Cubs’ All-Star third baseman who struggled with diabetes before his death in 2010.
The gifts Bartman donated to the foundation included radial keratotomy surgery — a procedure to correct nearsightedness — that Murtha said a doctor offered because Bartman would presumably have been able to see without eyeglasses and “it would somehow act as a disguise.”
Instead, Bartman kept his glasses, and a low profile, even when he had a chance to cash in. He once turned down a six-figure offer to be in an H&R Block commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, according to Murtha.
But TV has kept Bartman connected with the Cubs, and he’ll be watching them when they resume their pursuit of the World Series, according to Murtha.
“Of course he’ll be rooting for the Cubs,” he said. “That’s never changed. Nor will it.”