Hotel, businesses offer hideout
MIAMI -- If he's interested, the 26-year-old Chicago fan who deflected a foul ball away from a Cubs outfielder in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series can find solace in Florida.
Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday an offer of asylum might be a good idea, and an oceanfront retreat in Pompano Beach is offering the man a free three-month stay, should he deem it necessary to get out of Chicago until the hubbub over the popup cools down.
The fan would also receive free airfare and other perks, all provided by the Holiday Inn Oceanside Pompano Beach.
"People are compassionate in South Florida and people are talking about the unfortunate circumstances he must be facing today," said Chuck Malkus, a spokesman for the property.
Also included in the offer are free steak dinners, free martinis, even a free water taxi ride.
"They've got the curse of a goat or something, right," said Gerardo Pena, 40, a Marlins fan from Lauderdale Lakes. "I guess this guy is their new goat."
Pena was referring to a story well-entrenched in Chicago lore: A bar owner cursed the Cubs when he and his goat were turned away from a 1945 World Series game. The Cubs haven't made the World Series since.
The Cubs were five outs away from clinching the series and earning a spot in the World Series when the botched play took place Tuesday night. Replays showed the man looking up at the ball hit by Florida's Luis Castillo; it was unclear the fan was ever aware Cubs left fielder Moises Alou was in the area.
Game 7 of the series is Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.
Marlins fans who were lined up Wednesday with hopes of buying World Series tickets also expressed compassion for the man, with many saying it wasn't his play that was the most damaging to the Cubs in Florida's eight-run eighth inning.
Instead, Florida fans were saying that Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez's error, which occurred two batters after the fan knocked Castillo's foul pop away from Alou, was the biggest gift the Marlins received during the rally.
But it was the foul ball which created a national buzz on radio talk shows.
"You can't help but feel bad for the guy," said Marlins fan Dennis Sikes of Miami Beach, one of about 100 people waiting in a ticket line outside a team souvenir store Wednesday. "Chicago doesn't seem to be a real forgiving sort of place, you know."
The man had to be escorted out of Wrigley Field by security guards in the bottom of the eighth inning after he was threatened and pelted with debris.
Bush was asked Wednesday if he planned to offer the distraught fan asylum in Florida.
"If I had that power within me it might be, for his own safety, it might be good to bring him down," Bush said.
Bush seemed sympathetic to the man's unfortunate plight.
"Sports is so much fun because it isn't planned, it isn't programmed," Bush said. "Stuff happens. And in that sense, it's kind of a mirror of life. So all I can tell you is it's been an incredibly interesting series."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press