According to WGN, the most maligned fan in the history of the Chicago Cubs, Steve Bartman, will receive a World Series championship ring as a gift from the organization.
Bartman, a die hard Cubs fan who instantly became a pariah after interfering with a foul ball during Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins, received an outpouring of support during the team’s World Series run last year, but remained in seclusion despite calls for him to celebrate the team’s first title in 108 years.
Cubs owner Tom Rickett’s issued a statement explaining his decision to gift Bartman a championship ring. Per WGN:
“On behalf of the entire Chicago Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series Championship Ring to Mr. Steve Bartman.
We hope this provides closure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series.
While no gesture can fully lift the public burden he has endured for more than a decade, we felt it was important Steve knows he has been and continues to be fully embraced by this organization. After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift today.”
Bartman, who has not appeared publicly in the 14 years following his infamous moment, released a statement thanking the team:
“Although I do not consider myself worthy of such an honor, I am deeply moved and sincerely grateful to receive an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring. I am fully aware of the historical significance and appreciate the symbolism the ring represents on multiple levels. My family and I will cherish it for generations. Most meaningful is the genuine outreach from the Ricketts family, on behalf of the Cubs organization and fans, signifying to me that I am welcomed back into the Cubs family and have their support going forward. I am relieved and hopeful that the saga of the 2003 foul ball incident surrounding my family and me is finally over.
I humbly receive the ring not only as a symbol of one of the most historic achievements in sports, but as an important reminder for how we should treat each other in today’s society. My hope is that we all can learn from my experience to view sports as entertainment and prevent harsh scapegoating, and to challenge the media and opportunistic profiteers to conduct business ethically by respecting personal privacy rights and not exploit any individual to advance their own self-interest or economic gain.
Moreover, I am hopeful this ring gesture will be the start of an important healing and reconciliation process for all involved. To that end, I request the media please respect my privacy, and the privacy of my family. I will not participate in interviews or further public statements at this time.
Words alone cannot express my heartfelt thanks to the Ricketts family, Crane Kenney, Theo Epstein, and the entire Cubs organization for this extraordinary gift, and for providing the City of Chicago and Cubs fans everywhere an unforgettable World Championship in 2016. I am happy to be reunited with the Cubs family and positively moving forward with my life.”
It’s a nice ending to a long nightmare for Bartman. He never deserved the blame or hate he received. Enjoy your ring, man.
Here’s the moment that forever changed the course of his life: