During 102 minutes of reminiscence, Alex Gibney, film maker for ESPN, revisits the events surrounding the Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. The documentary tells the story of the match as viewed by Bill Buckner, former Cubs first baseman, and Steve Bartman, Cubs fan.
Buckner played for Cubs and later on Red Sox. He was the first baseman to allow a ground ball to be lost. In the 1986 World Series, the ball went through his legs and resulted in the New York Mets World Series championship enabling the curse to continue.
Bartman became notorious when he reached, alongside only a few other people, for a foul ball at the Wrigley Field Cubs match in October 2003. The Cubs were five outs short of reaching the World Series. It would have been the first time since their last success in 1945. Needless to say that Batman didn’t catch the ball, but served as a symbol for the curse being renewed.
For Gibney, “Catching Hell” serves as a means for media introspection, as Buckner is portrayed in the documentary as a substitute for humanity in its whole who manages to fail the media in both stories.
In 2008, the Red Sox had Buckner throw the first ball for the Opening Day. Even though he was received warmly by the Boston fans, the former baseman couldn’t forget the hell he was put through by the media after his error in 1986. In a press conference that followed the opening game of the season, Buckner talked about the ordeal him and his family had to put up with. His daughter Kristen was present as well for the event as a reporter for an Idaho TV station.
Things were even worse for Bartman who, unlike Buckner, wasn’t even a public figure. He got ESPN reporters stalking his car in an attempt to get a fast few words from the Cubs fan when he was leaving his work. The reporter was in the parking lot for seven hours. John Kass, columnist for Chicago Tribune, was sitting next to Bartman at the game, his first words to him were “Do you realize what you have just done?”. Sun Times made public the home address of the unfortunate Cubs fan.
Bartman’s story was addressed before, in a documentary entitled “Chasing October” directed by Matt Liston, who is a co-producer for “Catching Hell” as well.
The hatred towards Bartman started outside the field that night, with a fan who was carrying a TV on his head. People watching the replay of his actions over and over started chanting “Ass”, which later on carried into the ballpark as well.
“Catching Hell” includes premiers, as the interview with Erika Amundsen, a security guard for Wrigley Field, who talks about the way she got Bartman out of ballpark in one piece. Also, Moises Alou, left fielder, chats about his reaction to the foul ball, as him and colleague Aramis Ramirez foreseen a bad outcome and even booked flights back home.
“Catching Hell” will be aired several times throughout the week.