The Steve Bartman incident was a controversial play that occurred during a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins on October 14, 2003, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, during Major League Baseball's (MLB) 2003 postseason.
The incident occurred in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), with Chicago leading 3–0 and holding a three games to two lead in the best-of-seven series. Marlins batter Luis Castillo hit a fly ball into foul territory in left field. Cubs outfielder Moisés Alou pursued the ball and leapt near the fence in an attempt to make the catch. Along with other spectators seated against the wall, Cubs fan Steve Bartman reached for the ball, but he deflected it, disrupting Alou's potential catch. If Alou had caught the ball, it would have been the second out in the inning, and the Cubs would have been just four outs away from winning their first National League pennant since 1945. The Cubs ultimately allowed eight runs in the inning, and lost the game 8–3. When they were eliminated in Game 7 the next day, the incident was seen as the "first domino" to fall in affecting the series's outcome.
In the moments following the play, Cubs fans shouted insults and threw debris at Bartman. For his safety, security was forced to escort him from the ballpark. Minutes after the game, his name and personal information were published online, necessitating police protection at his home. He faced further harassment from fans and the media after the Cubs' loss in the series, as he was scapegoated for the continuation of the team's then 95-year championship drought. Bartman apologized for the incident and stated his desire to move past it and return to a quiet life. Many Cubs players came to his defense, emphasizing that their performance was to blame for their loss. In 2011, ESPN produced a documentary film exploring the subject as part of its 30 for 30 series. Titled Catching Hell, the film drew comparisons between the Bartman incident and Bill Buckner's fielding error late in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and explored the incident from different perspectives.