It just might be the most famous foul ball of all-time.
On Oct. 14, 2003, the Chicago Cubs were five outs away from the World Series.
Florida’s Luis Castillo hit a fly ball toward left field. Moises Alou raced toward the foul line, got to the wall, reached up and…oops. A 26-year old headphoned Cubs’ fan named Steve Bartman got in the way. Alou couldn’t make the grab (not that he was going to make it anyway) and the Cubs self-destructed.
Now, Bartman didn’t make Alex Gonzalez boot a potential inning-ending double play ball, or cause the Cubs to lose an entirely different game (Game Seven) but it’s been theorized that he set the wheels in motion that prevented the team from reaching its first World Series since 1945.
This is all old news. But it’s a moment that is singed into the brain of every Cubs’ fan. It affects us on a daily basis. For example, this weekend I was watching the MLB Network (a gift from the gods). The network was re-airing Game Six of the 1977 World Series between the Dodgers and the Yankees. Normally I don’t watch 30-year old sports games unless my team is playing, but I was firmly entrenched in my couch’s ass groove and it was either watch a classic baseball game or “Phat Girlz” on Oxygen.
In the bottom half of the first inning, Yankees leadoff hitter Mickey Rivers hits the first pitch he sees, sending it down the left field line toward foul territory. The Dodgers left fielder races toward the wall, reaches into the stands and manages to snag the ball in a maze of gloves.
It looked eerily familiar to the Bartman incident. Only this time the ball was caught. So who was the Dodgers’ left fielder? Well, none other than Dusty Baker. And where was Dusty Baker on Oct. 14, 2003? Well, he was in the Cubs’ dugout, probably thinking, “Shit, I could’ve made that play.” And in fact, he has. Oh, and who was playing left field for the Yankees in Game Six? That would be one Lou Pinella. Can’t make this stuff up.