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'SportsCenter' Fooled by Cub Fan Impostor

October 17, 2003|From Associated Press

BRISTOL, Conn. — A man pretending to be infamous Chicago Cub fan Steve Bartman tricked ESPN into putting him on the air for a live phone interview Thursday.

The prank, on the 6 p.m. EDT edition of "SportsCenter," was discovered shortly into the interview when the man referred to radio shock jock Howard Stern. The interview was stopped, and anchor Dan Patrick said, "We've been had. That was not Steve Bartman."

"We made a mistake," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said. "We have a process in place to prevent this type of situation. In more than 24 years it hasn't happened on 'SportsCenter' before. In this instance we should have been more thorough. Once it became clear, we communicated to viewers immediately that it wasn't a real interview."

Bartman became part of the Cubs' long, sad history Tuesday night when he played a key role in the team's collapse.

With the Cubs just five outs away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 1945, he deflected a foul ball and prevented left fielder Moises Alou from catching it.

Later in "SportsCenter," there were several references to the prank. When introducing a segment about the backlash against Bartman, anchor Matt Winer said the fan was so infamous he has his own impersonator.

During an on-camera interview with former manager Jeff Torborg, Patrick asked, "Are you really Jeff Torborg?"

Later, when an interview with Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti was cut short by technical difficulties, Patrick said, "That was Jay Mariotti."

"We've had better nights," fellow anchor Mike Greenberg replied.

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