Chicago Cubs fans can officially close the book on Steve Bartman. Fourteen years after he tried to catch a foul ball during the 2003 postseason, Bartman will be given a 2016 World Series ring from the team.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts released a statement saying the ring should “provide closure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series.” While Ricketts acknowledged the gesture will not fix everything that happened to Bartman following the incident. He said Bartman is “fully embraced by this organization.”
As you’re already aware, Bartman entered the national conversation after trying to catch a foul ball during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series. The ball was hit near the left field wall in foul territory. Bartman, who was sitting close to the field, reached out to grab it. Cubs left fielder Moises Alou also jumped to try and make a play on the ball.
The ball hit Bartman’s hands, and Alou immediately threw his glove down in anger, believing he would have caught it for an out. The Cubs were leading 3-0 at the time of the play. The Florida Marlins went on to score eight runs in the inning, winning the game 8-3. The Cubs then lost Game 7, and were eliminated from the postseason.
Since that game, Bartman has shied away from the media. The days following Game 6 were particularly rough on his family. His picture was plastered all over local newspapers. People found out where he worked. Police had to wait outside his house for weeks after the game to ensure nothing bad happened to him.
Bartman has had numerous opportunities to make public appearances or statements over the years. He could have cashed in on his celebrity years later, but he stayed out of the spotlight.
Because of that, it’s shocking that Bartman issued a statement after hearing he would receive a World Series ring. Bartman said he was “moved and sincerely grateful” by the gesture.
He also took it as an opportunity talk about how sports fans should treat each other:
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.
Bartman then thanked the team one more time, saying he is “happy to be reunited with the Cubs family and positively moving forward with my life.”
The Cubs also released a picture of the ring given to Bartman.
That should shut the door on this whole saga. Over the years, Bartman has been an unwilling participant in all the stories and coverage surrounding that game. Even as time passed, his stance never seemed to soften. He wanted privacy.
He may finally get it. Fans who held a grudge for some stupid reason seemed to let it go once the Cubs won a World Series. Some even called for him to throw out a first pitch in 2017. That hasn’t happened, likely because Bartman has no interest in being a public figure.
A statement is probably as far as he’ll go, and that’s just fine. Bartman has endured enough hate and abuse over the years. It’s nice that he can accept a ring from the team while still keeping what’s left of his private life intact.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
– – – – – – –