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Bartman exonerated by Alou admission

Bartman exonerated by Alou admission

CHICAGO -- Steve Bartman can come out now. Moises Alou says he couldn't have caught the popup with which Bartman, a Cubs fan attending Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, was criticized for interfering.

First baseman Derrek Lee, who was playing for the Florida Marlins at the time, didn't think Alou could catch it either.

In case you forgot, here are the details: On Oct. 14, 2003, the Cubs and Marlins were playing in the NLCS at Wrigley Field. The Cubs led the series, 3-2, and had a 3-0 lead after seven innings. They were five outs away from getting to the World Series for the first time since 1945.

With one out in the eighth, Florida's Luis Castillo popped up toward the left-field stands. Alou, then the Cubs' left fielder, followed the ball, which floated toward the seats and was deflected by fans. At the time, Alou slammed his glove to the ground and insisted it was interference.

Fans pointed at Bartman, and he had to be escorted out of Wrigley Field for his own protection.

In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Alou said he's constantly reminded of the play.

"Everywhere I play, even now, people still yell, 'Bartman, Bartman,'" Alou said. "I feel really bad.

"You know what the funny thing is? I wouldn't have caught it anyway."

Nearly everyone at the game thought the same thing.

"I thought it was very questionable [that Alou could've caught it]," said Cubs TV broadcaster Len Kasper, who was on the Marlins broadcast team at the time.

"I don't think he would've caught it," Lee said. "I don't see how you could ever blame Bartman. He didn't lean over the fence over the field. To me, it wasn't even an issue. To me, he would've had to jump high into the stands."

The Marlins scored eight runs that inning and won the game, 8-3, and the series en route to their second World Series win.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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