Chances are that the name Steve Bartman rings a bell in even the most casual of sports fans; a pretty impressive level of notoriety for some guy who attempted to catch a foul ball at a baseball game almost a decade ago.
How many people outside New York remember the name of the guy who caught Yankees’ legend Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit? Probably not too many and that was just three months ago.
Poor Steve Bartman has had a more difficult time fading into the background since he (and about a half-dozen other fans) interfered with an eighth inning foul ball in Game 6 of the NLCS in 2003. The fan interference prevented Cubs’ outfielder Moises Alou from fielding the ball and the Cubs, who were up 3-0 in the game and 3-2 in the series at the time, went on to blow both the game and the series.
There are not many casual Cubs’ fans in Chicago, and after a half-century of blaming their franchise’s failures on an actual goat, they decided to trade all that in for a scapegoat. Unfortunately for Bartman, he just stood out in that crowd: The glasses, the hat, the bright green turtleneck and, of course, the headphones. The guy never had a chance.
The scene after the incident was described as “lynch mob mentality” and the television cameras continued to pan to Bartman as the Cubs’ lead dwindled; ultimately a police escort was necessary to lead him from the stadium after verbal taunts turned more serious and a fan poured a beer on his head.
The ESPN documentary examines, amongst other things, the role of the media in the incident.
Bartman issued an apology in the aftermath and has all but disappeared since.
The filmmaker, Alex Gibney, thinks it’s Bartman who deserves the apology, and he’s right.