The baseball world champions, the Chicago Cubs, did something very classy today. They gave Steve Bartman a 2016 World Series ring. If you're saying "so what", you don't know the story. It's really hard to know where to start. But in the fall of 2003, Bartman became a symbol of everything that's wrong with sports, and more importantly, everything that's wrong with us and our society.

What was Steve Bartman's crime? He reached out and tried to catch a foul ball. That's it.

It was the National League championship series, Game 6. The Cubs were five outs away from their first trip to the World Series since 1945. Florida Marlin Luis Castillo hits a foul ball along the third base line. Steve Bartman along with many other fans sitting along the wall reach up for the potential souvenir. Cubs left fielder Moises Alou tries to make a play on it, but he and Bartman reach for the ball at the same time, and it's nothing but a foul ball. The Marlins go on to score 8 runs and win the game, and the next game to reach (and, ultimately, win) the World Series.

The story has been well documented. Steve Bartman became a pariah. He needed a police escort out of the ballpark that night. He got death threats. Imagine if there had been Facebook, Twitter, memes, etc. Because he reached out to catch a foul ball. ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary was aptly titled "Catching Hell".

Since that night, Bartman has never made a public comment and has refused all interviews.

After the Cubs won the World Series last October, there was talk of having Bartman participate in the victory celebration or maybe having him throw out the first pitch at this year's season opener. None of that came to pass.

But today, the Chicago Cubs did a very classy thing. They gifted Bartman a World Series ring. You can see the ring here.

The Cubs issued this statement:

"On behalf of the entire Chicago Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series championship ring to Mr. Steve Bartman," the statement said. "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."

Bartman also issued a statement, through the Cubs and MLB:

"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."

Amen to that.


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