It was the top of the eighth inning of game six in the 2003 National League Championship Series where the Chicago Cubs led the Florida Marlins 3 games to 2 in the best of seven series. The Cubs had the lead 3-0 and were just 5 outs away from going to the World Series for the first time since 1945.
Cubs Pitcher Mark Prior was on a roll and the hometown fans at Wrigley Field were convinced that it was finally going to be their year. However things were about to change, and drastically at that. Marlins switch-hitter Luis Castillo stepped up to the plate and worked his way to a full count, but on the last pitch, he smashed a hit towards the left field foul ball territory. Moises Alou, Cubs left fielder, got a great jump on the ball and raced towards the fence where he leapt up to make a spectacular catch that would have brought the Cubs that much closer to the World Series.
However, a Cubs fan reached down and grabbed the ball right before it landed in Alou’s glove, like almost literally right out of his glove. That fan was Steve Bartman and he had no idea the wrath he’d just brought upon himself. Because Bartman had touched the ball the umpires were forced to rule the play a foul ball, when it most certainly should have been an out.
Alou was immediately frustrated that the fan had interfered with his play and justifiably so. The rest of the team and the rest of the stadium actually were also quite upset about the situation. Prior was also quite shook up and that carried over into his pitching because he ended up walking Castillo when he got back up to the plate. At this point pretty much everything fell apart for the Cubs. Now the Marlins had a runner on first and third, with the tying run at the plate with just one out.
The next batter hit a single which scored one run, then an error made on a routine ground ball by the Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez on the next play loaded up the bases. The Marlins then went on a hitting streak that the Cubs just couldn’t do anything about. By the time they finally got the third out, the Marlins had taken the lead after scoring 8 runs and they went on to win the game 8-3 forcing a game 7. Cubs manager Dusty Baker reported after the game that “we just couldn’t stop the bleeding”.
Right after Bartman interfered with the flyball, the crowd went crazy, throwing beer cans at his head, as well as anything else they could get their hands on. It got so bad that security guards had to escort him out of the ballpark for fear of his safety. It didn’t stop there; Bartman was forced to go into hiding because the bloodthirsty Chicago fans blamed him for the loss. But before he did, he made a quick statement to the press “I’ve been a Cubs fan all my life and fully understand the relationship between my actions and the outcome of the game—I am so truly sorry from the bottom of this Cubs fan’s broken heart.” To make matters even worse, the Cubs went on to lose game 7, therefore, loosing their chance of reaching the World Series.
Hopefully, the “Bartman Curse” is long gone by now because as of this writing the Cubs are about to play in the 2016 NLCS against the Dodgers and where I’ve grown up a Cubs fan my whole life, I’m really hoping that this will be our year. Only time will tell.