CHICAGO (AP) — Having ended their title drought, the Chicago Cubs want their most notorious fan to share in their good fortune.
The Cubs announced Monday they were giving a World Series ring to Steve Bartman, who deflected a foul ball that might have landed in left fielder Moises Alou's glove with Chicago five outs from the World Series in 2003.
Bartman was harassed after the incident and has avoided the spotlight since. Chicago beat Cleveland last fall for its first championship since 1908.
The Cubs say they "hope this provides closure on an unfortunate chapter" and Bartman "continues to be fully embraced by this organization."
Bartman released a statement saying he is "deeply moved and sincerely grateful." He praised team owners the Ricketts family and management, and called the ring a reminder of "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," he said. "Moreover, I am hopeful this ring gesture will be the start of an important healing and reconciliation process for all involved."
The Cubs said they "hope this provides closure on an unfortunate chapter."
"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," he said. "After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift today."
General manager Jed Hoyer said it's "impossible not to look at him in an incredibly sympathetic way." He said Bartman was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" and his life has been "dramatically impacted indirectly by the Cubs organization, by this franchise, for 14 years."
"All that animosity, any scrutiny he gets, I hope that's gone," Hoyer added. "In some ways, it should never have been there in the first place. It's not a high point in Cubs history that this unsuspecting fan had his life altered by that foul ball. And now I think if giving him a ring and issuing statements and us winning the World Series allows that to go away, I think that's wonderful."
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