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Marlins recall ‘Bartman Game’ 10 years later

** FILE ** Chicago Cubs left fielder Moises Alou reaches instands unsuccessfully for foul ball tipped by fan Steve Bartman

** FILE ** Chicago Cubs left fielder Moises Alou reaches into the stands unsuccessfully for a foul ball tipped by fan Steve Bartman against the Florida Marlins in the eighth inning during Game 6 of the National League championship series in an Oct. 14, 2003, file photo at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Marlins won the series and went on to beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. The play was another moment in the history of the Cubs in postseason play that has fans believing their is still a curse on the team. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

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Updated: September 4, 2013 10:19AM



Juan Pierre played tour guide Monday for his Miami Marlins teammates, most in their 20s and anxious for their first looks at Wrigley Field.

More than anything, they wanted to see ‘‘the Bartman seat.’’

‘‘These guys were in elementary school in 2003,’’ Pierre said. ‘‘But they wear the Miami uniform, so they know the history.’’

Pierre was part of that most painful chapter of Cubs history 10 years ago, a member of the wild-card Marlins who went from being down three games to one to defeating the Cubs in a bizarre National League Championship Series.

For Pierre, who would later be a Cub in 2006, Marlins manager Mike Redmond, a catcher in 2003, and every other player from that team, winning the NL pennant is a more lasting memory than the World Series victory against the New York Yankees.

‘‘When we beat the Yankees, we were exhausted,’’ said Pierre, who rejoined the Marlins this season. ‘‘The fans there were like, ‘Whatever, we have 27 championships.’ Celebration-wise, it was here.’’

The NL trophy ended up damaged by the time celebrating was over in the visitors’ clubhouse — the only place in Chicago that was celebrating after Game 7.

But the stage had been set in Game 6 when the Cubs, only six outs from a pennant, penned the strangest chapter of their wayward history when fan Steve Bartman foiled Moises Alou’s attempt to catch a foul ball.

‘‘When that happened, I’ll never forget Mike Redmond yelled in the dugout, ‘Let’s make that guy famous!’ ’’ said pitcher Dontrelle Willis, the one-time Cubs draft pick who was traded to the Marlins and pitched in Game  6. ‘‘We were like, ‘Wow, man.’

‘‘If you played it out again, it probably wouldn’t have happened. The stars were just aligned right, you know what I mean?

‘‘A hundred years later, they’ll always remember that, whether the Cubs win. That’s probably one of our [great moments] of sports history. It was crazy. It was fun — for us, at least.’’

Marlins coach Perry Hill remembers vividly how furious Cubs fans rocked the Marlins’ bus outside Wrigley after Game 6.

‘‘There was no security,’’ he said. ‘‘There was lots of security the next night.’’

Redmond returned to Wrigley once after that October, as a member of the Minnesota Twins in 2009.

‘‘Every time I come to Chicago, it’s the first thing I think of — just how electric the city was for those two games, and how it changed everything for us,’’ he said. ‘‘As tough as it was for Cubs fans, it was great for us.’’

Pierre came to see the history differently after playing for the Cubs and White Sox.

‘‘There were 20,000 people waiting outside to celebrate, and they were six outs away,’’ he said. ‘‘Don’t get me wrong — I won a World Series. But you realized later we became more [known as] the team that denied the Cubs.

‘‘I feel for the fans because you see how passionate they are. When I was here, we weren’t winning, but they still came out and cheered us, so I get it. You really get it when you see how passionate they are.’’

Pierre wasn’t the only one from that Marlins team to become a Cub. Todd Hollandsworth and Derrek Lee joined the next season.

‘‘Playing for the Cubs, you become a part of the city,’’ Pierre said. ‘‘I still get the chills when I come here because it’s Wrigley Field. When you put on the uniform — when you see Billy Williams and Ernie Banks and Ron Santo when I was there — you know, and you understand. And it’s still a vivid memory, especially being back with the Marlins.’’

Contributing: Gordon Wittenmyer

Email: tginnetti@suntimes.com

Twitter: @toniginnetti



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