On October 15th, 2003, the Chicago Sun-Times published the name and hometown of a 26-year-old computer consultant named Steve Bartman. The paper was not wrong for doing this — the information was widely available on message boards the night before and other publications would’ve done it soon anyway — but it signaled an end to whatever life Steve Bartman had previously known.
The night before, Bartman attended Game 6 of the National League Championship Series between the Cubs and the Marlins, a series in which the Cubs led 3-2. He took his normal seat along the left field line, and watched Mark Prior pitch seven innings of shutout baseball. He was five outs away from seeing the team he’d grown up loving make its first World Series since 1945. Then Luis Castillo came to bat.
If you look at the tape from that night, you can see that several spectators went up to try to grab Castillo’s foul ball. But Bartman was the one who came down with it, and was the one who kept Moises Alou from catching it. Alou’s livid reaction, caught by TV cameras, was all the city of Chicago needed to see. Bartman was the goat. And after the Marlins rattled off eight runs in that inning, he had to be ushered out of the stadium by security. Six police cars came to his parents’ home that night, because Bartman still lived with Mom and Dad, and because he was now the most hated man in Chicago.
Here’s a sneak peek from Catching Hell, ESPN’s upcoming 30 for 30 documentary on that night. If it is not among the five best 30 for 30’s upon its release (I currently have The Two Escobars, Winning Time, The U, Without Bias, and One Night In Vegas on my list), it will be disappointing.