Eight years after Steve Bartman became public enemy No. 1 in Chicago, ESPN aired its much-anticipated documentary Tuesday night perfectly titled “Catching Hell.”
During the eighth inning of Game 6 of the NLCS between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins in 2003, a foul ball was hit in the direction of left fielder Moises Alou, who looked to be in perfect position to make the catch.
Unfortunately for the Cubs—and Bartman—the ball hit his hands and changed his life forever. The lovable losers were winning 3-0 at the time, but the wheels fell off after Bartman’s interference. They ended up losing the game, and with fans and media still consumed with what had transpired the night before, the Marlins gave Cubs fans another big blow by winning the NLCS, and then the World Series.
“I zeroed in on the story of Steve Bartman because I was interested in the collective mania of a city and the need to find a scapegoat for disappointment,” Director Alex Gibney said on ESPN. “As a lifelong Red Sox fan who had been released from the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, I can show the best and the worst of Cubs mania through the lens of one who has been there.”
“Catching Hell” noted how several fans were also reaching in direction for the foul ball before it ended up hitting the hands of Bartman, who was portrayed as nice guy, and a diehard Cubs fan.
The documentary also recreated the catch and only left Bartman and Alou in the shot. The filmmakers tried to imagine what would happen if Bartman didn’t interfere. “Catching Hell” came to the conclusion that Alou probably would’ve made the catch to possibly push the Cubs toward a World Series appearance.
ESPN’s latest documentary also took viewers inside Bartman’s dramatic escape from Wrigley Field, as security disguised Bartman and led him away.
Thinking the Bartman fiasco was a one day story, media in Chicago published Bartman’s address, and soon after, police were sent to keep on an eye on the Cubs fan.
Said Gibney: “I hope the Cubs do win some day. And when they do, I hope Chicago throws Bartman a party in Wrigley Field.”
We’re not sure that’s going to happen.