Jason Kipnis plays second base for the Cleveland Indians, but he grew up in Chicago's North Side and was a big time Cubs fan.
He lived near another huge Cubs fan, Steve Bartman, who became infamous after accidentally knocking a foul ball away from Chicago outfielder Moises Alou during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins.
At the time, the Cubs were just five outs from their first World Series appearance since 1945. But Bartman's interference sparked a rally by the Marlins, who went on to win that game and then the NLCS.
Many Cubs fans have blamed Bartman for that loss and their team's continued woes in general, but not Kipnis. A high school student 13 years ago, Kipnis remembers "very vividly" seeing police staked outside Bartman's house because of concerns for the man's safety.
"He didn't deserve that," Kipnis said. "He never asked for all the stuff that probably happened to him afterward. I don't think he deserved any of that. He was probably actually a pretty loyal fan and he wanted a ball, and it's just the way events turns that turned him into this scapegoat."
Now the Cubs are finally back in the World Series, and playing against Kipnis and the Indians. The two-time All-Star says he has "zero conflict" about facing the team he rooted for as a kid, Kipnis said it would be great to see Cubs fans put the Bartman thing behind them once and for all.
"I would love to see him throw out a first pitch," he said. "Everyone would go nuts."
But Frank Murtha, a longtime friend and spokesman for Bartman, told CNN on Saturday that will never happen.
"The likelihood that he would return to throw out a first ball or anything like that is probably slim, none and no chance," Murtha said.
According to Murtha, Bartman remains a loyal Cubs fan even though he still receives death threats from some of the team's fans. But Bartman has kept a low profile since the event, and his friend says that's not going to change even though the Cubs' fortunes finally have.