National Sports Collectors Convention organizers are using a little charity guilt to convince Steve Bartman to show up and sign that picture.
His attorney/spokesman dismissed the offer but organizers for the 29th National Sports Collectors Convention say the $25,000 pledge to Steve Bartman for one autograph still stands. Now, the charity involved in the stunt is also trying to place a little pressure on the low-profile Cubs fan to show up.
Bartman has become perhaps the most infamous Cubs' backer of all time. Seated close to the left field line during the 2003 National League Championship Series, he prevented Moises Alou from making a play on a foul pop-up during a critical moment of Game Six. The play may have contributed to the Cubs' ongoing World Series drought and has since made the unassuming Bartman a target for fans and punsters.
Last week, NSCC show officials and representatives from SportsBuy.com (formerly NAXCOM), made Bartman a $25,000 cash offer to sign a photo of the play. It would then be offered at auction, with proceeds set to benefit a charity. The NSCC stated in a news release Tuesday that the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation would be the beneficiary should the signing take place. Spokesman Frank Murtha quickly stated Bartman would not accept.
The convention is scheduled for July 30 - August 3 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill. The NSCC has set the proposed signing for 1 p.m. Thursday.
If signed, the photo would be auctioned by SportsBuy.com to the general public with net proceeds being donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Organizers believe the photo could sell for over $100,000 since the money will go to a charity.
"JDRF is committed to raising critical funds to support the ground-breaking research that will allow us to fulfill our mission to find a cure for type 1 diabetes," said JDRF Illinois Chapter Executive Director Patrick Reedy. "The support of baseball fans and everyone in the community is greatly appreciated. If Steve Bartman were to accept this invitation, it would be a great gesture of goodwill and a one-of-a-kind opportunity in support of the children, adults and families living with type 1 diabetes every day."
In addition, all fans and collectors who attend the 29th National on Thursday and make a donation to JDRF in support of Steve Bartman will be entered into a drawing for a Meet & Greet with former Chicago Cubs player/Baseball Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg on Friday at the 29th National.
"The response from the public to our offer was incredible, so much more overwhelmingly positive, in support of Steve showing up, than we ever could have imagined," said Mike Berkus, co-Executive Director of The National.