The harassed fan responded with a moving statement about forgiveness.
The name “Steve Bartman” is among the most evocative in baseball. Among those familiar with the infamous fan, his name either conjures a hapless fan whose mistake led to a malevolent crusade against him or a sinister saboteur whose mistake led to … well, you get it.
14 years ago, a headphone-wearing Bartman reached for a foul ball, thwarting the efforts of Cubs outfielder Moisés Alou to catch it. It was Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. The Cubs lost the series, and Steve Bartman became the object of spite and harassment from Cubs fans the nation over.
Now, the Cubs have their first World Series victory in a long, long time. And to close the book on the folly that’s haunted a mild-mannered man for over a decade, the team has offered to him a special gift — a World Series ring, identical to what the players receive.
That’s his last name on the side.
The #Cubs reached out to Bartman and presented the ring today https://t.co/yNGFEmVeh2— Carrie Muskat (@Carrie Muskat) 1501522049.0
The team presented the gift with the following statement to 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, gracious as always, responded with some moving words about the honor he felt and the lessons that can be learned from the ruthless treatment he was subjected to after an honest mistake.
“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.”
For years and years, it seemed that, despite media think pieces and public pleas by others, Bartman would never find peace. This honor certainly won’t mark the end of his harassment, sadly, but it serves as a momentous step toward his redemption in the eyes of many.