Newspapers called him the most hated man in Chicago. Baseball fans threatened his life and the police needed to protect him. For several weeks in October of 2003, sports radio and television could not stop talking about one man and what he had done. His name was Steve Bartman and some people at the time claimed that he single-handedly ruined the Chicago Cubs playoff run.
In 2003, the Chicago Cubs were playing in the National League Championship series. This was incredibly important for Cubs fans because winning this series would allow their team to advance to the World Series Championships, the biggest contest in Major League Baseball. The Cubs had not won the World Series championship since 1908. However, the Cubs were a formidable team in 2003 and on October 14th of that year, they needed to win only one more game against the Florida Marlins to advance to the World Series. It would be the closest the Cubs had gotten to the World Series Championship in almost 100 years.
With their hopes high and wildly excited at the possibility of going on to the World Series, Cubs fans packed the stadium at Wrigley Field in Chicago. By the eighth inning, the Cubs were in front of the Marlins by a score of 3 to 0. It seemed almost certain that Chicago would win the game. The Marlins’ second baseman, Luis Castillo, went up to bat and hit several foul balls. If any of the Cubs players could catch one of them before it landed, the Cubs would earn the win. One of Castillo’s foul balls finally flew towards Cubs’ player Moises Alou and it seemed like an easy catch for a player of his ability. Just before Alou could grab the ball, however, a fan reached out from the stands and caught it. Alou got angry, threw his baseball glove on the field and shouted at the fans. The game continued and the Cubs lost the game as the Marlins proceeded to score eight runs.
For days after the series ended, incensed Cubs fans phoned into local radio stations and complained about the fan who snatched the ball away from Moises Alou. Someone posted the fan’s personal information on the Internet and some people even threatened his life. Six police cars were sent to his home to protect him and his family. The fan, who was identified as Steve Bartman, later wrote to the media that he was very sorry for the incident and that he was so focused on catching the ball that he did not see Alou’s attempt to do the same. Although reporters made repeated interview requests, Bartman refused all of them.
Some time has passed since “the Bartman incident”. Steve Bartman has returned to his normal life and most people outside of Chicago have forgotten about him. The foul ball which Bartman caught was sold at an auction and it was destroyed in an explosion by a special effects expert. The remains of the ball were boiled and the steam was added to a pasta sauce. Bartman’s seat at Wrigley Field has become a tourist attraction and fans often take photos of it. Moises Alou has said he forgives Bartman and has moved on.