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Hotel, businesses offer hideout

10/15/2003

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."