Chicago Cubs fans are patting themselves on the back today for supporting a franchise with enough class to give Steve Bartman a World Series ring.
Winning a World Series can make bygones be bygones, but it doesn’t erase history in which many of the same Cubs fans made Bartman’s life a living hell.
He’s the guy who did this the last time the Cubs got a whiff of a trip to the World Series. The sixth game of the National League championship series in 2003, in which the Cubs led 3-0 in the eighth inning.
The Cubs lost that game and the subsequent game 7 and that was as close as they’d get until last year, when an ill-timed rain delay helped propel them to a game seven win over the Cleveland Indians.
Bartman was thrown out of Wrigley Field, and with his identity disclosed, had to go into hiding.
In the Chicago Sun-Times today, Bartman got the editorial treatment he should’ve gotten years ago.
And what did Bartman do? He said he was “truly sorry.” And then he went silent. No interviews, no fighting back and no attempts to cash in on his notoriety, which would have been the American way. He turned down $25,000 to autograph a picture of himself. When fans of the winning team that fateful night, the Florida Marlins, sent him gifts, he asked them to make donations instead to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Today, the Cubs gave him this, lots of diamonds that won’t make up for how he was treated.
“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,” the Cubs said in announcing their gift.
“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, put out his own statement:
“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.”
Anything can happen, of course. The Cubs can even win a World Series. But there’s no chance that Bartman’s hope will become reality.