Steve Bartman, the Chicago Cubs fan notorious for interfering with a foul ball during the 2003 National League Championship Series, received an official 2016 World Series ring from the team on Monday.
Bartman reached for and tipped a foul ball during Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS as Cubs left fielder Moises Alou tried unsuccessfully to catch it. Alou reacted angrily, and many fans directed their ire at Bartman after the Cubs went on to lose the game and then the series. Bartman has stayed out of the public eye ever since.
The Cubs' failure to advance to and win the World Series in 2003 extended the team's lengthy championship drought. The team finally won its first championship since 1908 last season by beating the Cleveland Indians.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts presented Bartman with the ring Monday in his office. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and President of Operations Crane Kenney also attended the meeting. Ricketts then gave Bartman a tour of Wrigley Field to show him what had changed since he'd last been there.
Ricketts and the Cubs issued a statement saying the team was "honored" to present a ring 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 statement read. "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."
No photos of the ring presentation or tour were expected to be released as Bartman had requested privacy, WGN reported.
Bartman issued a statement thanking the Cubs for the gesture.
“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."
Some fans were happy that the Cubs extended the olive branch.
Others didn't like the idea.
i'm very, very sorry but giving steve bartman a ring makes close to zero sense. leave him alone.— Scott Rennie (@scott_rennie) July 31, 2017
Some found humor in the ring presentation.
The Chicago Cubs gave Steve Bartman a 2016 World Championship ring. The ring was presented by Moises Alou, but Bartman dropped it.— Fake SportsCenter (@FakeSportsCentr) July 31, 2017