Steve Bartman has broken his silence.
Bartman, who was wrongly accused of ruining the Chicago Cubs’ chances of getting to the 2003 World Series, on Monday released a statement to WGN Television. Since that fateful night, Bartman hasn’t been heard from, although his spokesman commented after the Cubs won the World Series last fall.
The reason that Bartman has broken his silence? WGN-TV reported that the Cubs are giving Bartman a 2016 World Series ring.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts told WGN in a statement: “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.”
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Bartman was sitting in the seats down the left-field line at Wrigley Field during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series. He attempted to catch a ball off the bat of the Marlins’ Luis Castillo that Cubs left fielder Moises Alou may have had a chance to grab, but it instead fell as a foul ball.
Castillo ended up drawing a walk and the Marlins wound up scoring eight runs in that eighth inning — thanks in large part to an error — and won 8-3. In Game 7, the Cubs blew a lead and the Marlins won the pennant.
“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,” Bartman told WGN. “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.”
You can read more about what Ricketts and Bartman had to say here.