2017-07-31 15:05:02
Chicago Cubs Give Steve Bartman a World Series Ring

15:05, July 31 345 0

Steve Bartman innocently reached up for a foul ball in 2003. He soon was the most reviled sports fan in America, with many people saying his act had cost the Chicago Cubs a chance at a long-elusive championship.

In 2016, the Cubs finally did win the title, after a 108-year wait. And now, eight months after that historic achievement, Bartman has received a World Series ring, said WGN-TV.

“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 team said in a statement provided 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.”

In his own statement, Bartman said, ”Although I do not consider myself worthy of such an honor, I am deeply moved and sincerely grateful.”

“My hope is that we all can learn from my experience to view sports as entertainment and prevent harsh scapegoating,” he added.

Bartman, a financial consultant, was seated in the front row at Wrigley Field for Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series.

The Cubs were ahead, 3-0, in the eighth inning at Wrigley Field, needing just five more outs to make it to the World Series for the first time in 58 years. At which point, Bartman reached for and deflected a foul ball hit by Luis Castillo of the Marlins that Cubs left fielder Moises Alou seemed to have a good chance to catch. The Marlins went on to score eight runs in the inning and win the game, and amid abuse from fans, Bartman was escorted from the park.

The next night, the Marlins won Game 7 at Wrigley and went on to win the World Series, too. Bartman effectively went into hiding.

Bartman’s defenders pointed out that he was acting instinctively in reaching for the foul ball and that his action did not cause the Cubs to surrender all those runs in the inning — an error on a potential double-play grounder was the biggest mishap — or lose the next night.

Bartman did apologize after the incident, but it seemed to take years for the resentment toward him to start to diminish. And the Cubs’ long championship drought, the importance of that game and Bartman’s memorable outfit of Cubs cap, headset and turtleneck when disaster struck all combined to make the incident grow to legendary proportions.

Numerous articles were written about Bartman over the years, and he was the subject of an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary in 2011.

Meanwhile, Bartman scrupulously avoided the news media, declining interview requests and commercial offers.

On Monday, however, he returned to Wrigley to receive his ring, his exile officially over. Whether he had quietly slipped into Wrigley before now to watch the Cubs play is not clear.

In his statement on Monday, Bartman said, “I am relieved and hopeful that the saga of the 2003 foul ball incident surrounding my family and me is finally over.”

And if the Cubs make it back to the postseason this year to defend their championship, perhaps Bartman will even throw out a first ball.