Turnaround silences burgeoning party
CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs supporters showed up for a nightlong party at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, only to have their raucous celebration snuffed by a stunning late-inning rally that left them cursing a fellow fan.
In a sudden eighth-inning turnaround, the Florida Marlins took advantage of left fielder Moises Alou's run-in with a fan on a foul fly and an error by shortstop Alex Gonzalez to score eight runs in an 8-3 victory, forcing the NL championship series to a Game 7.
People, who minutes earlier were dancing and singing the praises of the Cubs, suddenly turned their wrath on the fan who grabbed for the fly ball just as Alou attempted to catch it. Obscene chants echoed from inside the stadium and from the surrounding streets, where thousands gathered to celebrate what they hoped would be the Cubs' first trip to the World Series since 1945.
Ballpark guards escorted the man, who was wearing a Cubs hat, from his seat along the low outfield wall and into a security office as the game ended. He covered his face with a sweater as he walked past fans who pelted him with cups of beer and shouted obscenities. Some chanted "kill him."
Jim Cuthbert, 33, said he was sitting about 15 to 20 rows behind the fan and was kicked out after approaching to berate him.
"My wife was hanging on to my arm. I was going nuts. That idiot. We were five outs away," Cuthbert said.
Fans outside the ballpark at first couldn't believe what they were hearing on radios or watching on portable televisions.
"I hope he gets an escort out," said Mary Krueger of suburban Niles, who watched the mishap on a portable TV while standing on Waveland Avenue behind Wrigley's left-field wall. "One more night, that's all."
But for other fans, the loss brought back fans' worst fears of the Cubs' many previous late-season collapses.
"I've seen this movie before," said Torey Stern, 39, of Chicago. "I saw it in '84 with the Padres, in '89 with the Giants and in '98 with the Braves. The movie ends the same."
Earlier in the game, people jammed the many bars in the Wrigleyville neighborhood surrounding the stadium and thousands more packed the streets, waving signs, chanting and dancing. Some bodysurfed across the crowd on Waveland Avenue.
Tony Kloss flew to Chicago on Tuesday morning from New Jersey along with his two employees, even though they didn't have tickets. The 27-year-old business owner said he watched the Cubs on TV as a child and just wanted to be with the crowds outside.
"I love the crowd, I love Chicago," he said.
But the roar of cheers turned to groans as those outside learned of the sudden change of fortunes. Some sat down in the street where minutes earlier they had been jumping.
Fans began to stream outside of the stadium immediately after the game, talking to friends on cellular phones about the defeat.
"Look at how silent everyone is," said Ray Shannon, 52, of Brookfield, Wis., who watched the game from the rooftop of a nearby building. "We were up on the roof high-fiving and pouring beers on guys and suddenly somebody turns the lights out. It's shock theater."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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