On Oct. 14, 2003, a Chicago man was transformed into the ultimate Cubs scapegoat.
During Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins, Cubs fan Steve Bartman was blamed for ruining Chicago's chance to advance to the World Series when he tried to grab a Luis Castillo popup foul ball, deflecting it out of the reach of leaping outfielder Moises Alou.
The Cubs led the series three games to two and were up 3–0 in the eighth inning of Game 6. Had they won, they would have earned a trip to the World Series for the first time in 58 years. Instead, Alou didn't make that catch, the Marlins scored eight runs and knocked Chicago out of the playoffs in Game 7 the following night.
Whether Alou actually would have caught the ball is far from certain. And Bartman can't be blamed for Alex Gonalez's bad error, or the Cubs allowing the Marlins to score eight consecutive runs. Nor can he be blamed for the Cubs blowing a 5–3 lead in Game 7. Don't forget that Chicago held a 3–1 lead in the series.
Still, Bartman was blamed. Watch the infamous play below, or don't if you're a Cubs fan and the visual is too painful.
So where in the world is Steve Bartman now?
It's not entirely clear. He has stayed out of the public eye. When The New York Times investigated in 2013, Bartman was still living in Chicago and working for a financial services consulting firm. The Times also confirmed Bartman, who didn't speak to the newspaper for the story, was still a fan of the Cubs. He changed his phone number after the incident in an effort to retain some degree of anonymity, but has still turned down hundreds of interview requests, public appearance opportunities and even a six-figure deal to appear in a Super Bowl commercial. The Cubs invited him to return to Wrigley in 2013, but he also declined that invitation.
Bartman, now 39 years old, will presumably be watching from home as the Cubs again head to the NLCS, where they will take on the Dodgers as they attempt to end their now 108-year World Series drought. If the Cubs indeed win the World Series, perhaps reconciliation between the team and its most infamous fan will follow.