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07/31/2017 03:15 pm ET

Chicago Cubs Give Championship Ring To Fan Wrongly Blamed For 2003 World Series Miss

Steve Bartman "all but vanished" after the notorious foul ball incident.

After spending the past 14 years as a scapegoat, Steve Bartman can consider himself officially cleared.

The Chicago Cubs announced Monday that they’re awarding Bartman a 2016 World Series Championship ring. It’s a peace offering of sorts, they said.

“On behalf of the entire Chicago Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series Championship Ring to Mr. Steve Bartman,” the team said in a statement to HuffPost. “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,” the statement continued. “After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift today.”

With 214 5.5-karat diamonds, 33 rubies and 46 sapphires, the 14-karat white gold World Series Championship ring is <a href="h
Chicago Cubs
With 214 5.5-karat diamonds, 33 rubies and 46 sapphires, the 14-karat white gold World Series Championship ring is worth an estimated $70,000.

In October 2003, Bartman drew scorn ― and death threats ― from Cubs fans the world over after he reached for a foul ball from the stands in Wrigley Field during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, tipping it from the outstretched glove of Cubs outfielder Moises Alou:

That moment would be remembered as a turning point in the series, one that the rival Marlins seized upon to rally from a deficit and capture a place in the World Series. Had the Cubs secured just five more outs, they would have progressed to their first World Series appearance since 1945.

Bartman, horrified, was ridiculed as having perpetuated the notorious Cubs “curse,” even though an error by Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez ultimately would have ended the inning anyway. CNN notes that Bartman, who works in finance, “all but vanished” after the incident, keeping a low public profile.

Following Monday’s announcement that the Cubs would give him a ring worth around $70,000, Bartman emphasized ― as he did in 2003 ― that he’d really just prefer to leave this all behind him.

”I am relieved and hopeful that the saga of the 2003 foul ball incident surrounding my family and me is finally over,” Bartman said in a statement forwarded to HuffPost by the Cubs.

“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,” he went on. “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.”

Read Bartman’s full statement, below: 

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 ringI 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.

HuffPost

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