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Cubs extend olive branch, give Steve Bartman a World Series ring

This photo provided by the Chicago Cubs baseball team shows a 2016 World Series championship ring the team announced Monday, July 31, 2017, they were giving to Steve Bartman, the fan remembered for deflecting a foul ball that appeared destined to land in left fielder Moises Alou's glove with Chicago five outs from the World Series in 2003. (Chicago Cubs via AP)

For the past 14 years, the person associated with the Chicago Cubs’ inability to win a World Series was a fan named Steve Bartman.

During Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, the Cubs were five outs away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 1945 when a ball was hit down the left field line. Cubs outfielder Moises Alou was going for it when Bartman reached for the ball himself and interfered with Alou’s ability to catch the ball.

What happened next was the Cubs went on to lose Game 6 and Game 7, and for 14 years, Bartman was the symbol of the Cubs inferiority to win the World Series until last year. As for Bartman, he went into hiding and became estranged from the Cubs.

On Monday, the Cubs announced the team had extended an olive branch to Bartman to bridge the relationship by giving him an official World Series Championship ring.

“On behalf of the entire Chicago Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series Championship Ring to Mr. Steve Bartman,” the Cubs 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.”

According to the Cubs, Bartman received the ring in Cubs owner Tom Ricketts’ office and afterward Rickets showed him around Wrigley Field at what has changed since the last time he was at the park.

Bartman issued the following on Monday.

“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.”

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