Bartman, you will likely recall, is the Cubs fan who reached out to grab a baseball during a 2003 playoff game and was believed at the time to have interfered with the Cubs outfielder at a critical point in the game, with only five outs left to get to the World Series, and the team ultimately lost, of their own accord. The outfielder later acknowledged he didn't think he could have caught the ball anyway, but by then it was too late -- Bartman's life was totally mucked up, not just by far many idiot fans, but even some media. One shameful newspaper even printed his home number. The national press chided him. Jimmy Kimmel sent a pizza to his house. Gov. Jeb Bush offered him asylum in Florida. ESPN made a documentary on the story. The result is that he basically went into hiding and hasn't even made any public statement despite several efforts by the Cubs to bridge the gap. It's been the subject of a lot of humor over the years, but I've never found it remotely funny. The poor guy had his life run over by a bulldozer. And all he did was try to catch a foul ball.
But as wonderful and classy as the Cubs offering a special World Series ring to Steve Bartman is, just as wonderful and classy is that...Steve Bartman made his first public statement in 14 years and accepted the ring -- and did so incredibly graciously.
Here's what the Cubs wrote in offering the special World Series ring.
"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."
This is that gift.
But all the better, as I said, here is how Steve Bartman responded to the Cubs giving him the ring. It was his first public statement since 2003.
"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."
That's a fine statement.
It even went on a little bit further, as Bartman also expressed his thanks to the entire Ricketts family, the Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney, and the team president Theo Epstein, as well as the entire Cubs organization for the gift and "for providing the City of Chicago and Cubs fans everywhere an unforgettable World Championship in 2016."
And he closed with. "I am happy to be reunited with the Cubs family and positively moving forward with my life."
The Cubs first World Series in 108 years keeps getting better. A joy to Cubs fans and an added pleasure for how annoying this must be to St. Louis Cardinals fans that it just keeps going on and on...