Infamous Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman is receiving an official 2016 World Series ring as a gift from the Chicago Cubs and the Ricketts family, according to WGN in Chicago.
Bartman became famous when he sat in the front row along the leftfield foul line at Wrigley Field and extended his arms during the 2003 NLCS, potentially interfering with Cubs outfielder Moises Alou with five outs to go in Game 6 against the Florida Marlins. The Cubs went on to blow their lead in Game 6 and lose Game 7 to Florida. The Marlins defeated the Yankees in the World Series.
Owner Tom Ricketts issued 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 says that he will not participate in any interview or issue any other public statements but did respond to Rickett's gesture with the following statement to WGN:
“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.”
Bartman's name came up throughout the Cubs' 2016 World Series run as many expected the team to possibly bring him out to a game or possibly even throw out the first pitch.
Bartman reportedly still lives and works in the Chicago area. The Cubs have previously invited Bartman back to Wrigley Field and he has declined any offer.