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Late-Inning Loss Shocks Chicago Cubs Fans

October 15, 2003

CHICAGO (AP) _ Heather Swanson proudly waved a giant blue Cubs flag as her favorite team closed in on its first World Series since 1945. A few minutes later, she needed the flag pole for support.

``I’m so depressed. I’m going to cry,″ the 21-year-old fan said.

In a monumental eighth-inning meltdown Tuesday night, the Cubs allowed eight runs in an 8-3 loss that sent that the NL championship series to a deciding seventh game Wednesday night.

The Marlins took advantage of Chicago left fielder Moises Alou’s run-in with a fan on a foul fly and an error by shortstop Alex Gonzalez in the big inning.

``If Alou had been able to catch that one ball ... I really thought they were going to do it,″ said Joanne Dexheimer, 47.

A 26-year-old man wearing a Cubs hat prevented Alou from catching Luis Castillo’s ball. As the Marlins rallied, security guards escorted the fan out. He threw a jacket over his face for protection, but not before other fans hurled beers at him.

``You cost us the World Series!″ one fan yelled at him. Some chanted ``Kill him!″

Cubs security chief Mike Hill refused to give out any details about him other than his age. But Hill did say the team gave him a new coat and led him out a different exit after the game so no one could recognize him.

``He was scared to death more than anything,″ Hill said. ``He just wanted to get out of here.″

Chicago fire fighter Pat Looney was seated next to the fan and said there was no misconduct.

``It looked like it was out of play. Don’t blame him,″ Looney said. ``I should’ve pushed him out of the way. If I saw Alou coming, I would have.

``He wasn’t leaning over. He was behind the rail, he didn’t know Alou was coming. It looks like I touched the ball, but I didn’t. I got 50 hate calls already. The firehouse where I work is being bombarded.″

Cubs fans have turned their attention to Wednesday’s game, talking about pitcher Kerry Wood in a subdued, but confident, way.

``I wish we didn’t have to use him, but I think Wood can do it,″ Dexheimer said.

Most fans were surprised by how quickly the Cubs’ fortunes turned sour.

``It happened so fast, people were shocked. They were hardly talking inside the stadium, they were just standing and staring at the field,″ said 37-year-old John Gransee.

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