Cubs to give World Series championship ring to Steve Bartman

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CHICAGO — Steve Bartman, who for more than a decade was a symbol of prolonged misery for the Chicago Cubs, will receive a 2016 World Series championship ring in a gift from the organization and its owner, the Ricketts family, WGN reported Monday.

Bartman is remembered for trying to catch a foul ball that left fielder Moises Alou tried to reach for in the stands during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field.

At the time of the incident, the Cubs were leading 3-0 in the eighth inning and five outs from reaching the World Series for the first time since 1945.

Alou slammed his glove in frustration after Bartman tried to catch the ball. Fan interference was not called because it was determined the ball was over the stands and not in the field of play.

After the incident, the Marlins scored eight runs to win, 8-3. The next night, the Marlins rallied from a 5-3 deficit to win, 9-6, and advance to the World Series.

The Marlins then beat the New York Yankees in six games for their second championship.

Fans hurled liquids and food as Bartman sat in his seat after the incident. He was escorted out of the stadium and has been in seclusion the past 14 years, declining numerous interview requests.

The Cubs finally reached the World Series last year, beating the Cleveland Indians in seven games for their first championship since 1908.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts told WGN that it was time to extend an olive branch to 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,” the Cubs said in a statement to WGN.

“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 also issued a statement.

“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.”