Will a $25,000 payday be enough to get one of the more famous Cubs’ scapegoats into the National Sports Collectors Convention? His spokesman says no way.
Cubs fans have had plenty of scapegoats for their troubles over the years. Even a billy goat.
Poor Steve Bartman, a die-hard Cub nut who just happened to forget his fan manners during one very important 2003 playoff game, is on the list. His interference with Moises Alou’s attempt to catch what would have been the second out of the 8th inning in the 2003 National League Championship series is blamed by many for the Cubs’ continued failures. Never mind the myriad of other elements from the critical loss to the Florida Marlins. Bartman is an easy target.
It hasn’t helped that he’s kept a very low profile (can you blame him?), but now the folks who run the National Sports Collectors Convention are hoping to lure him to the show with the promise of $25,000 cash just to sign a picture of the infamous play.
Show organizers and SportsBuy.com (formerly NAXCOM.com), made the offer for Bartman to show up at 1 p.m. Central Time on Thursday, July 31, in the Tristar Autograph Pavilion inside the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. If he shows up, SportsBuy plans to auction the photo and says it will donate net proceeds to a Chicago-based charity. Bartman is known to support the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
It’s a shrewd PR move with the Cubs again staking claim to the National League Central lead and the National seeking some fresh attention.
“No one in sports memorabilia history has ever been paid $25,000 to sign one autograph – not Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, or any other athlete,” said Mike Berkus, Show Manager of The National.
“All Steve has to do is show up, prove he is in fact the real Steve Bartman – not some earphone-wearing imposter – and he’ll move to the top of the autograph value list.”
However, a family friend who has served as Bartman’s spokesman told the Chicago Tribune there’s no chance he’ll show up.
"It’s another gratuitous use of his name and it won’t happen," said Frank Murtha.
Offers have been made to Bartman in the past for appearances–a six-figure fee for a Super Bowl commercial among them– but it’s believed he has turned them all down. He still lives in Chicago despite reports he had moved out of the area after the intense backlash that followed the Cubs’ loss in the series.
The baseball involved in the play was auctioned several years ago, purchased and destroyed in a much-publicized event at a Chicago restaurant. The vaporized remains of the ball were used in the making of spaghetti.
“Steve Bartman has been a recluse for years, but we’re hopeful that he will accept our invitation, and generous offer, to appear at The National,” Berkus said. “We have personal security to provide to Steve at The National, and to a destination of his choosing.”
List of game-used baseball memorabilia currently for sale on eBay